[b-hebrew] quotes with uncertain Hebrew meanings

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Fri Aug 24 01:33:32 EDT 2007

Dear James:

On 8/23/07, JAMES CHRISTIAN READ <JCR128 at student.anglia.ac.uk> wrote:
> KWR. In my dictionary, I list by electronic count 721 words where the linguistic data is insufficient for us to be certain of their meanings.
> JCR: Hi Karl, is your electronic lexicon available? What languages does it currently support? Is it English only at the moment? I wouldn't mind having a play with it by your permission.
Already sent you off line.

I want to take this opportunity to say that my work is not hidden,
rather available for non-commercial use for whoever wants to use it.

However, I want to warn you that this dictionary is not, to use a
printer's term, "put to bed", rather I keep on updating it based on
continued reading of Tanakh and discussions on this forum.

One of the problems with this dictionary is that it was developed, not
by design, but as a series of notes for my personal studies. As such,
it often has definitions that raise a swarm of thoughts and
understandings in my mind, but may fail to do so in yours. That is a
problem in an idiosyncratic work such as this.

> JCR: Hi Kenneth, you may take my opinion as an extreme
> view but I would call into question the meaning of
> every single word in the Hebrew corpus until you have
> justifiable linguistic reasons for accepting its
> meaning:
> i) contextual harmony
> ii) traditional understanding
> iii) cognate testimony
> iv) etymological reasons
My order is slightly different.

i) contextual harmony
ii & iii) etymological reasons & traditional understanding
iv) cognate testimony

We agree with i). I put etymological reasons and traditional
understanding on the same level  1) we have only a relatively few
roots expressed in Tanakh, with many words, many of which are nouns,
where we have no etymological data to access (they could be loan
words) 2) there are many false etymologies, most of which are based on
traditional understanding  and 3) some of the traditional
understanding fits neither contextual harmony nor, where applicable,
etymological reasons. However, I started with traditional
understanding, and most words are still understood at least closely
related to traditional understandings. I put cognate testimony last,
not only for false friends (e.g. $KX in Aramaic means to find while in
Hebrew to forget) but even where they have similar meanings, the
difference can be sufficient to give a wide variance in meaning when
taken in a total context.

> ...
> James Christian Read - BSc Computer Science
> http://www.lamie.org/hebrew - thesis1: concept driven machine translation using the Aleppo codex
> http://www.lamie.org/lad-sim.doc - thesis2: language acquisition simulation
Karl W. Randolph.

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