[b-hebrew] Genesis 31: 47 - Suffix -UT

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Nov 28 17:07:31 EST 2007

On Nov 28, 2007 6:02 AM, Isaac Fried wrote:
> Pere,
> The flow chart should go, methinks, this way
>                    ----------> MELEK, king
> MLK, root
>                    ----------> MALKUT, kingdom, kingship
> Now, matters become befogged because we jump from one language to
> another and think that by mechanical translation we achieve
> understanding. To understand the Hebrew you need to explain to
> yourself what MELEK and MALKUT mean without using the English
> equivalents, only the root MLK.

No, actually, it's not.  It's just the other way around.

When *malk and *malkut are explained with reference to English, it is clear
what the definition of those words is taken to be.  Languages use a host of
grammatical markers and the relationship between them and the words
is fluid and changes between different words.  For if creation the act or
produce of creating, and definition the act or product of defining, should we
go on and say that fiction is the act or product of ficting or that emotion is
the act or product of emoting?  If conceivable relates to the capability to
conceive and edible to the capability to eat, should we say that capable
is the ability to cap? That constable is the ability to const (this last
example has no real etymological connection)?

The exact relationship of the suffixes changes between words.  Even when
a suffix exists, it won't always be productive and allow the creation of new
words from existing ones.  A nice case of a new such suffix in English is
-gate "scandal" taken over from Watergate.  But just because now there is
a -gate suffix, doesn't mean that there is any inherent meaning in the word
gate itself that has to do with scandal.  This is, in fact, the etymological
fallacy.  Language creates new suffixes and prefixes, and they do have
significance and meaning in the word, but this does not mean they are
always consistent, or that we can describe the meaning that they produce
in the word using a formula, or that the suffix itself can be broken up into
elements that have inherent meanings.

Yitzhak Sapir

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