Is it true that there are many words in Hebrew which are spelled the same in the Irish language (Gailic)sic? Sorry about the spelling.
The name is Gaelic. (That’s all right, at least you didn’t write “garlic.”).
The only word I have noticed that Celtic and Hebrew share in common is the word for ‘air’, which is awir in Hebrew and awyr in Welsh (not Gaelic). This was found on a web page:
Can’t resist, really. So insider is talking out of his Erse, then?
Actually, the same has been suggested of Welsh and Hindi, I think, but I don’t know who suggested it, and it was certainly a case of “army officer reminisences” so I wouldn’t bother looking for a proof, really.
Well, now, Welsh and Hindi are both Indo-European languages, so there should be cognates (although probably mostly such that only the professional linguists will recognize them).
Yes, certainly you are right, but the guy I had in mind reckoned that monoglot speakers of both languages were able to comprehend each other without much difficulty at all, and that strikes me as a bit far-fetched; that is, as expressed by whoever-it-was, it was not based on linguistic theory or knowledge. Actually, I suspect he if an army officer notices that the “lower ranks” and the put-upon “natives” have found a means to converse, he may have forgotten that you don’t need very much language to express what you think of the boss man.
I think you’ll find that this happens a lot over many languages, insider. Many times it’s a coincidence, often times not. Take this for example:
Puzzle in Hebrew is puzzle. Why? Lack of a better word, they stole it from English. Languages have a habit of doing that.
Mother in Hebrew is Ema (or spelled close to that, pronounced ee-mah). Mother in Spanish is madre. Mother in German is mutter.
Many many languages give mom the “mu” or “ma” sound. Same with dad. Languages develop the way they do for a reason. In this case, those are very easy sounds for a child to make. So it’s quite possible that those words evolved independently, but it’s not a coincidence that they sound the same. Languages have logic to them.
Nobody discovers something and says “I believe I shall call this the Xyfrryszst.” Words develop for a reason.
So…to answer your question, I don’t know. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer was that the Gaelic and Hebrew languages developed similar words completely seperate from each other.
There is a whole list of words in different languages around the world, the same or very similar words developed independently of each other. (see link above)
One (obvious) explanation is borrowing, as Enderw23 noted. I remember when I was in third grade, my Weekly Reader informed me that the hottest game in Japan was baseball, and the Japanese name for it was beisu-boru. I was like, That’s incredible! It practically sounds the same as “baseball”! How did that happen?! Well, soon after, I learned about linguistic borrowing – and that rules out any amazement. Ho-hum.
The second phenomenon Enderw23 noted is the independent development of sound & meaning together. This takes place only in a very select, small group of words, basically “mommy” and “daddy”. Baby talk is universal.
A third explanation for similarity is cognates in related languages, as MEBuckner pointed out. Between Gaelic and Hindi there are hundreds if not thousands of shared Indo-European roots. How about a few examples–
English Gaelic Hindi
two dhá do
three trí tîn
four ceithre câr
six sé che
seven seacht sât
eight ocht âTh
nine naoi nau
ten deich das
tooth déad dânt
I mé maim
thou tú tû
name ainm nâm
These are obvious ones, but there are plenty of others where the relationship has been obscured through historical sound shifts, although linguists can still trace the etymology. For example, ‘life’ is beatha in Gaelic and jîva in Hindi; both come from the Proto-Indo-European root *gwei- which also produced English quick, Greek bios, Persian zîst (>English zest), and Russian zhizn’. The word for ‘five’ is cuig in Gaelic and pâñc in Hindi, both from Proto-Indo-European *penkwe. The words for ‘five’, ‘finger’, and ‘fist’ are related in many languages, even outside Indo-European. For example, Latin quinque ‘five’ and pugnus ‘fist’ are both traceable to *penkwe.
This is from:
Meanwhile, back to Gaelic: the Gaelic word for ‘son’ is mac and the same word in Tamil (a Dravidian language of South India) is maka. This and similar correspondences in many other languages lead back to the same Nostratic root.
Ishmintingas - that is SO interesting, and I won’t get to read it, ’ cos I’ll have to be away from computer for a few days. Sulk. The “five” bit (I don’t want to make a big quote since your message is just above) was fun, because it set me thinking of the word “pinky/pinkie” for the little finger. If that word also comes from the same root, I find it amusing as it is not really used in English in England, and they are quite likely to regard it(rather patronisingly) as just a strange slang word used by the funny Scots (in my case) or by the funny insert-nationality-of-choice.
Hey, Celyn, that is a neat connection between *penkwe and pinkie. Hadn’t thought of that!
Well, I got sidetracked. Beyond the three ways of accounting for similar words in different languages, there is the whole list of coincidences that can’t be explained by any of the above processes. That is what I find interesting!
I think that the pinkie-penkwe connection is a false cognate. Pinkie for little finger probably comes from the Dutch pinkje, which is the diminutive form of pinke which means small boat. (Pinkje means very tiny boat, or some such thing)
I know the Dutch etymology of pink; I analyzed it in another thread last summer, something about why girls wear pink. (I would reference it here but don’t know how to find threads from that long ago–my search thingy doesn’t go back more than 30 days.) Without taking pinkie/*penkwe as serious etymology, I thought it made for some fun wordplay.
Yes, it does… “Any date” is up on the top of the list, not down at the bottom where you’d expect it.
Intriguing thread, by the way… I once had a guest lecturer from Israel, and her accent sounded, to me, like a very strong Irish brogue. Is there any real connection there, or was I just fitting an unfamiliar accent into a familiar category?
Am I missing something or wouldn’t it be impossible for any word to be spelled the same in Gaelic and Hebrew as they have entirely different alphabets?
waits for the rocks to pelt her
Not spelled the same, LaurAnge, just pronounced similarly.
You want to try spelling Hebrew words in English? Start with hanukah. Or is it chanukah? Chanuka? Hanuka? I’ve seen it all four.
Though in actuality, the alphabets are remarkably similar in nature:
Aye, Bee (English)
Aleph, Bet, (Hebrew)
Alpha, Beta. (Greek)
Ah, Beh (Spanish)
I hate to go Hooked On Phonics on you all, but there really are a limited number of sounds the human vocal chords can achieve, so it’s again no surprise that some things turn out the way they do. Language didn’t just magically appear ala Tower of Babel. It was created in a few places and spread out as groups traveled to new places. There are “missing links” between languages like the Germanics and the Romantics. ishmintingas explained that part much better than I could.
Still, despite the similarities, each language is also unique. The Japanese don’t use the “l” sound in their language, which is why they have a difficult time saying “really” or “lolipop.” Non-spanish speakers have a difficult time rolling their “r’s” and non-Hebrew speakers (or arabic) can’t cough up enough phlegm to produce that “ch” sound.
Each language has adapted on its own. But what they need from other cultures, they borrow. Well except those snooty French and their language boards.
Oy Nostratic, that’s an entire thread/can of worms unto itself. It’s my understanding that Nostratic is very controversial and not very widely accepted by linguists.
Nostratic is no longer dismissed as a crackpot idea the way it once was. Evidence for the argument in favor of relations between Indo-European and other families continues to build up.
As for the words for ‘air’: Hebrew awir and Welsh awyr, one can’t help noticing their uncanny resemblance to the Greek aêr–especially considering that w vanished in Classical Greek.
What’s the etymology of the Hebrew word? The Celtic words for air (the others being Irish, Manx and Breton aer, Scots Gaelic athar and Cornish ayr) are from the Latin aer.
According to A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language, the Hebrew word “avir” is of Post-Biblical origin, and comes from the Greek “aer”.
Really? Not just greenberg, eh? Can you direct me to some recent opinions on this, I haven’t followed this in a while and had last read about Nostratic as being just crackpot. Interresting veddy interesting!