[b-hebrew] COOKED UP ETYMOLOGY-- THE CASE OF B. H. [ 'ZN ]
ishinan at comcast.net
Mon Jun 7 20:40:47 EDT 2010
I must apologize for my last message. For some reason, the formatting went
nuts and words ran together. I have no idea what happened or why.
Therefore, I am resending my original message with the hope that my computer
will act responsibly this time :-) Ishinan
Beginning of the last post:
[ISHINAN] - Randall, I hope I am not putting words in your mouth, if I do
please correct me.
Your following remark, in "Fact of language?" thread, caught my eye:
[RANDALL BUTH] - We know heezin האזין 'listen attentively'. But we don't
know if or what *azan might have meant, if it existed. izzen, אִזֵֹן on the
other hand appears to mean 'balance/arrange'
[ISHINAN] - have seen a similar proposition expressed in Strong's
etymologies # 238; 239; 241, and 3976, which when combined allude to a
'azan a primitive root (rather identical with ''azan' (238) to broaden out
the ear (with the hand), i.e. (by implication) to listen:--give (perceive by
the) ear, hear(-ken). 'azan: through the idea of scales of a balance as if
I believe a simple exercise involving comparing cognate languages can easily
shed light on this matter. Of course this works only if you are a Semitist
and believe in the comparative method. Against this, there are those who
will, off hand, strenuously disprove of the comparative method of
investigation. To them I say, there is no need for you to bother reading
further. Life is too short to get upset about such things as "cooked up
etymologies" as discussed below.
By "cooked up etymologies" I mean that there are a group of words in
Biblical Hebrew as well in other languages that share the same spelling and
the same pronunciation (as in the case of `azan) which are concocted as
being linked together through a nonexistent Proto Semitic trilateral root
'zn (aleph+zayn +nun).
Yet here, this linkage made up by Strong or others, which denotes primarily
the sense 1) of ear to ----> 2) to listen . 3) through the idea of scales of
a balance as if two ears, is etymologically false, if one consider # 3 as a
Anyone wishing to review the results of the Semitic data in regard to these
words, is invited to review the following facts:
In Ugaritic: in M. Dietrich-O. Loretz- San-Martin, Die keilalphabetischen
Texte aus Ugarit (Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1976), Text (KTU 1.3:IV.lf.) The word
'udn (pl. 'udnm),is literally "ear," see also Caquot, André & Sznycer,
Maurice. Ugaritic Religion. (State University Groningen; Leiden: E.J. Brill,
1980.) Pl. VII-X, XVIII, XIX.
Ugaritic "udn" is the cognate of B. Hebrew 'zn which denotes in Deut.
1:45; Isa 1:15; Jer. 7:16; the sense of hearing 'zn; to use the ear, to
listen. In all three Semitic languages Ugaritic , B. Hebrew, and Arabic the
medial letter is respectively written as delta, zayn and dhAl.
The Ugaritic letter delta (IPA 104 + 408) is a voiced dental plosive
The Hebrew letter zayn (IPA 131) is a voiced alveolar fricative consonantal
The Arabic letter dhAl (IPA 133) is a voiced dental non-sibilant fricative
(for those unfamiliar with Arabic this sound is found in English, as in the
words "those" or "then". In English the sound is normally rendered "dh" when
transliterated from Arabic.
NB. The sound dhAl is lacking in Hebrew, words like [dhi'b] 'Wolf' and
[dhahab] 'gold' in Arabic are respectively cognates to Hebrew [zeh'éb] and
[zahab]. The initial Arabic dhAl here corresponds to the Hebrew zayn.
Meanwhile, in the world of the Ugaritic gods as among humans, the deities
use balances for weighing. When it has been decided that the moon-god
yarikhu will marry Nikkalu, the father of the bride places the standard of
the balance (msb mznm), the mother of the bride places the scales the
balance (kp mznm),and the sisters take care of the stone weights ('abn
mznm). [mznm] is the cognate of BH mo'zn # 3976 root of 'zn cf. Arabic
[MyzAn] balance root of [wzn]. In all three languages Ugaritic B. Hebrew,
and Arabic the medial letter is uniformly a zayn.
The letter zayn (IPA 131) in Hebrew and Arabic or Ugaritic zeta is a voiced
alveolar fricative consonantal sound.
The forgoing phonological analysis and factual examples from cognate
languages reveal an unambiguous discrepancy in the phonology of the Semitic
cognate data. While this disparity of meanings combined with different
phonetic letters clearly means that we are not dealing with the same related
words. H.B. 1) [`azn] primary sense of ear ---> listen and 2) ['azn]
(denoting balance and/or weigh) are simply not connected in any shape or
form. The proto Semitic root of the former is actually ['dhn] while the
latter is [wzn/'zn.] The Hebrew examples are simply homonyms of the type
known as homographs.
Any doubt about this outcome can be easily dispelled if one consults the
Brown Driver & Briggs; a Hebrew and English Lexicon pp. 23, and 24. The
dictionary entries, show respectively, the various examples in cognates
languages, which unequivocally support this conclusion.
Cooked up etymologies are sometimes awkward, though just about always
interesting to uncover. The B. Hebrew [`zn] here, is a classical case of
concocting a simile of two unrelated things, in this instance such as ears
PS. if any of you need to review the pertinent JPEGs of the data, along
with the BDB entries discussed above, please contact me privately and I will
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