K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Fri Oct 16 10:40:33 EDT 2009


On Thu, Oct 15, 2009 at 8:46 PM, Ishinan <ishinan at comcast.net> wrote:

> Karl W. Randolph wrote:
> Unexamined tradition can lead to etymological errors.
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Ishinan:
> Applying the comparative method between sister Semitic languages can easily
> dispel erroneous etymologies.

> Ishinan Ishibashi

On the contrary, the comparative method between languages can exacerbate
etymological errors. The reason is that individual words can have very
different meanings even between very close sister languages.

A story that I heard gives an example: a Swede went to Trondheim, Norway,
and in the evening hopped into a cab giving the instruction, “Ta mig til en
rolig plass.” (Take me to a place where the night life is hopping). The
Norwegian driver heard, “Ta meg till en rolig plass.” (Take me to a quiet
place) and so drove to a cemetery. The story may be apocryphal or the
Swedish use slang, but it illustrates how comparative linguistics would not
catch the Swede’s use (Norwegian “rolig” (pronounced roo-lig) German ruhig).

In comparative linguistics, which meaning of שכח $KX is favored—the Aramaic
“to find” or the Hebrew “to forget”?

Karl W. Randolph.

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