Ishinan ishinan at comcast.net
Sat Oct 17 17:44:16 EDT 2009

Karl Randolph wrote:

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 $KX is favored—the Aramaic “to 
find” or the Hebrew “to forget”?


Ishinan's response:

Upon linguistic examination of the SHK'aKH examples mentioned in your 
response, in Hebrew and Aramaic, these terms are unrelated.  i.e. they do 
not have a common etymological origin. They are considered false cognates. 
Those who attempt to lump them together under the guise of being polysemous 
(through the idea of disclosure of a covered or forgotten thing) are 
actually barking up the wrong tree.

The Hebrew sense of SHK'aKH ; "to be oblivious of, from want of memory or 
attention, or to forget" has a Hebraic origin (independent development in 
Hebrew). It has nothing to do with the Aramaic's sense to "find", which in 
its own right had its origin in Aramaic.

Aramaic has a long history of diverse and widespread use.  This has led to 
the development of many divergent varieties which are sometimes treated as 
dialects.  Since SHK'aKH is attested in both Eastern and Western dialects, 
it is safe to conclude that its origin is to be found in Proto-Aramaic.

Conclusion: the Hebrew and Aramaic terms here represent two distinct 
concepts, sharing the "same name" or signifier.  Simply put, they are 
homonyms.  The inclusion of both terms in the Old testament text is mainly 
due to the influence of a people who, at one point, had shifted to another 
language as their primary community language.

The fundamental technique of Comparative Semitic Philology is to compare 
phonological systems, morphological systems, syntax and the lexicon of two 
or more Semitic languages using techniques such as the comparative method. 
For example, a common etymological origin for the term "forget"  (in 
Comparative Semitic Philology) would be:  the Proto Semitic: *nshy .

In Hebrew:

The  cognate  term is "nashah". In Genesis  41. 51  "And Joseph called the 
name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, [said he], hath made me forget all 
my toil, and all my father's house." Also found in Lam 3:17, Jer 23:39, Isa 

5382 nashah  is a primitive root; to forget; figuratively, to neglect; 
causatively, to remit, remove:--forget, deprive, exact & 5388  nshiyah 
forgetfulness Psa 88:12


In Ugaritic:

The gods can be forgetful;  Motu reproaches Ba'lu that he has forgotten( 
nshy) to invite him to a banquet and ba'lu does not deny this. Source: KTU 
1.4: VIII. 67 and KTU 1.5: 1. 26.


In Arabic:

"nsy/nsw/nsA" : To forget, to constrain oneself to dismiss something from 
the mind,  hence, "mansiyah": forgotten; nisiyAn: forgetfulness.


I hope this helps.

Best regards,

Ishinan Ishibashi


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