[b-hebrew] Asher again

s.a.breyer s.a.breyer at gmail.com
Tue Jul 13 19:35:20 EDT 2010


	I have in-laws who 'to celebrate their Irish heritage' named
their daughter Caitlin, which they pronounce Cate-lin and believe to
mean 'pure', from Greek 'cathar-'. That's an eye-reading of an Irish
spelling which very neatly parallels a popular derivation based on early
Christian folk etymology. Do their misconceptions invalidate the actual
Irish pronunciation, approximately 'Kathleen', or the actual derivation
from Greek 'aikaterine'? Do they have any bearing at all on the ultimate
derivation, which has been variously conjectured to be from 'hekateros'
(each of two), 'Hekate' (the goddess), 'aikia' (torture), all Greek, and
even from Coptic (the original St. Catherine was Alexandrian).
	You may be amused by this, and should take it into consideration
in advancing Leah as an authority:


>> Just as comparative linguistics can be led astray by words in
different languages having the same or similar form but vastly different
meanings, so historical linguistics, unless grounded in recovered or
saved examples, is even more speculative. Human history can take
unexpected turns that no model can account for.

	Historical linguistics is not nearly so speculative as you
always try to make out, though it may appear so if you take your
knowledge of it from sensationalist feuilletons or the strawmen of
sophists. Only comparative/historical linguistics can tell us whether
the derivation of Asher from at_irat is plausible; you can't just
handwave it.

> Questions answered elsewhere, either directly or as a logical
consequence of other answers.
	I didn't ask any questions, but if you like I'll pose a couple
not answered: What's your evidence that Leah wasn't punning? What's your
evidence that Leah made the name up rather than borrowing a name she
didn't understand from the contemporary Canaanite onomasticon? or, on
the other hand, that the author wasn't making an entertaining joke? You
have none, of course; these are all conjectures, just as plausible as
and no more so than:

> The evidence from Genesis is that this account was written down by
contemporaries of Leah (divine inspiration not necessary), therefore
could recount what she told them.
	I recall no such evidence, but I'm happy to be instructed. In
what respect is it evidence I should take any more seriously than Parson
Weems' ascription of the cherry-tree fable?

>> * the date at which the account was composed, whether in Moses' time 
>> or Ezra's or Judas the Hammer's

> What? I expressly referenced this question-
	Yes, I know you did, and my point is that this in particular is
irrelevant, reflexively intruded into the argument because your
particular hobbyhorse is that anyone who disagrees with you about
practically anything is a radical minimalist who espouses Hasmonean

> do you accept the text as written (or more accurately, assume that the
copyist errors are minimal) or do you preach the modern mythology of
late authorship?
	How late is late? . . . But what *I* accept is, likewise,
irrelevant. Since you ask, I believe (for reasons which I will not
impose on the List because I prefer to keep my own uninformed crankiness
to myself) the core of Genesis to have been written at the same time
(and very likely by the same author) as the Court History. But it has no
bearing on the question: there is no textual obstacle to deriving the
name Asher from Asherah, or both from a common source, in either an
infallible scribal descent or a late invention. ... 

Stoney Breyer

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