[b-hebrew] Asher again

Stoney Breyer stoneyb at touchwoodcreative.com
Wed Jul 14 11:10:13 EDT 2010

KR: I am putting words in your mouth which you did not say as a demonstration of why I do not find your answer convincing.

SB: Well, I apologize for charging you with repeating other people's CompLing strawmen when it is clear you are perfectly capable of inventing your own!

KR: Eons ago when I actively studied Germanic languages, I had to watch out for words that looked the same, but have different meanings. For example, “gate” in English refers to a type of door, but many places in England retain street names from the Vikings where “gate” means “street”. Or how about “boot” in German and English? The German “Stiefel” sounds closer to “steeple”.
SB: Two excellent examples of applied historical linguistics ...
	GATE:	I don't know whether you discovered this for yourself, or got it from a book, or looked it up in an etymological dictionary - but SOMEBODY "did" historical linguistics to dispel the pre-scientific derivation of both senses from 'go' and establish that these are homonyms which entered English from two different sources.
	STIEFEL/STEEPLE: Yes, I can remember when I was learning German, and fascinated by German/English cognates, I reported this 'obvious' relationship of two elevated ('steep') structures to my father - who, sadly, informed me that 'Stiefel' is a loan-word from Italian, 'stivale'. Again, my false etymology was corrected, not generated, by historical linguistics. ... There, there's *my* personal experience.

KR: Who was Parson Weems and what cherry-tree fable?
SB: Weems was the author/bookseller who first reported the story of George Washington and the cherry tree - "I did it with my little hatchet." Although Weems ascribed the story to an unnamed cousin of Washington's, most historians believe he made it up, along with other edifying tales in the Life of Washington. Weems was born in 1756 and published the Life a few months after Washington's death. So much for contemporary accounts.

KR: Well, there is no argument. 
SB: And that's the point I've been trying to make from the beginning. The question of whether 'Asher' is derived from/cognate with 'Asherah' has no more to do with the issues you, and now Jim, raise than, say, the question of the derivation of 'Britain' depends on "how one reads" Geoffrey of Monmouth. It *does not impinge on your respective myths*, and there is no reason to intrude those myths into the discussion.

Stoney Breyer

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