[b-hebrew] reShKM and HWH

David Kolinsky yishalom at sbcglobal.net
Thu Oct 16 15:40:35 EDT 2008

Perhaps, but I have in my dictionary many examples of words with the same root that are not connected and I point out how they are not connected and where they are derived from.  So perhaps you can point out specifically where you believe I have "invented roots" to prove my theory.
One of the features of Biblical Hebrew language is that many of its words
clearly are connected in form and meaning as roots and derivatives from the
roots. In many traditional lexica (especially before Gesenius)
lexicographers tended to make connections of "derivatives" to "roots" that
were highly speculative, listing all words according to their putative
roots. Roots were posited just so all words could be listed according to
roots. I had a lexicon that did just that. I saw many a time that a
"derivative" clearly had a definition that had no connection with its
"root". Other times forced definitions were assigned to "derivatives in
order to make them fit the claimed root/derivative pattern. Others too have
seen the same practice, so this practice has become known as the
"etymological error".

In reaction to this etymological error, many modern lexicographers have gone
to the opposite extreme, not recognizing etymologies that can be
demonstrated. Personally I conclude that the worst example of such is a
lexicon according to semantic domains, where words that refer to the same
action in all contexts, are defined differently according to a claimed
"semantic domain".

The best lexica would be those that chart a middle course, leveraging
recognized roots and derivatives to help in understanding meanings, while
acknowledging that many times the surviving vocabulary of Biblical Hebrew
can demonstrate no root/derivative structure. I did not intend to write such
a lexicon, but starting with notes in margins, after a time I realized that
I done just that, listing roots and derivatives where they can be
demonstrated, while also listing all words in alphabetical order to include
all words that have no demonstrable roots, among them foreign loan words.

With the above as a background, it appears that you have gone to the extreme
of the etymological error, making highly speculative connections that cannot
be demonstrated in Biblical Hebrew, and in inventing roots that are not
found in Biblical Hebrew in order to construct your speculative etymologies.

Karl W. Randolph.

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