The only foreign language I have studied is Spanish, where the word for the Judeo-Christian God is “Dios” and the word for one of the Greek gods for instance is “dios”. I assume that this means it is the same in other Romance languages. I have also heard that the word is spelled the same way in Japanese. So now I’m curious if any languages have a separate word, spelled and pronounced differently, for “a” god and “the” God.
I am waiting for someone to weigh in on Arabic, because I am thinking that referring to Zeus, Thor, Shiva, etc. as “allahs” would be profane in Islam.
How about in modern Hebrew, along the same lines?
Related quetion: American Orthodox (?) Jews who write “G_d” … can they refer to "the Norse god ‘Odin’ "?
People use God because they believe it is inappropriate to use their god’s formal name, but capitalize the generic term to signify that it is the “One”. The word being capitalized is the same word “god”, meaning deity. but lilkewise, “Deity” is captilized in similar usage.
“God” is not the christian god’s name. “Allah” is the name of God in Islam. “Yahweh” or something similar is the Hebrew name (I think), and the christian god is sometimes name “Jehovah”, though other names are sometimes used.
Arabic for “god” is “ʾIlāh”
Some translations of Allah (Al-Lah) see at as “The God”, others cite that this was the name of a pre-muslim creator god in Mecca “Allah”. That’s not to say the two origins are neccessarily separate.
A notable exception would be Orthodox (?) Jews who write “G_d”, it seems. If “God” were merely a euphemism for “Yahweh”, the omission of “o” wouldn’t necessarily be mandated, correct?
Hebrew also has “elohim”, which is used Biblically for capital-G God, as well as other gods and monarchs.
Is “el_him” or something similar ever written?
The explanation I have gotten is that “Allah” (as “The God”) is used to emphasize the monotheistic nature of Islam, although Judaism had a thousands-of-years head start on it there. I am not familiar with the other reference.
The problem is that these organized religions have hijacked the word to become the name. In the case where you think of the word as the name, omitting the “o” prevents writing the name.
Since the majority of people now think “God” is the name of the Deity, and Jews, among others, seem to have an aversion to writing the name of their god, the use “G-d” or “G_d”. (cite - Jewfaq - http://www.jewfaq.org/name.htm)
It’s not a case of not being a euphemism its a case of linguistic evolution where the word got adopted, through vernacular usage, as a name.
My understanding is that Allah is a portmanteauing, according to Arabic syntax rules, of al-ilah, meaning “the God,” i.e., the one true God, accept no substitutes.
YHWH (probably spoken Yahweh) in Hebrew is God’s personal name, with a meaning eoufhly of “HE IS THAT HE IS.” Think of it as equivalent to Vishnu or Wotan, rather than to “Allah” or “God.” The usage for “God” in Hebrew is “Elohim,” a specialized plural of “el”. which is the generic term ‘god’. (El, captalized, is also the name of the senior god in Canaanite/Aramaean polytheisms, often with an epithet attached, and some of the divine titles in the Bible are of this form, e.g., El Shaddai.) Adonai (cognate to ‘Adonis’) and Ba’al are words meaning ‘lord’, the last being used as the name for the male Canaanite deity.
If I have gotten it right, the North Germanic terms are ‘god’ meaning the generic term, with As (pronounced ‘ass’ and with plural Aesir) and Vana (plural Vanir) for particular groups of deities.
No, because it’s a descriptive title, not a name. Orthodox Jews are very careful about the Divine Name spelled yud-hey-vav-hey, and cover it with a few layers (first Adonai, then Hashem, which just means “the name”), but el/elohim isn’t in that code ladder, it’s a designation of class.
Actually, many religious Jews say and write “Elokim” instead of “Elohim”, to avoid using the letter H.
A Japanese speaker will be along shortly to thoroughly beat me down for saying what is probably not fully accurate, but from my dimestore knowledge of Japanese:
Kami means “god,” any god.
Kami*-sama*, where “-sama” indicates supremacy, is the Japanese name for the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
I didn’t know that, Alessan! What’s the significance of the H – is it that it’s the only letter that’s also in the Tetragrammaton?
Not really. kami-sama (神様) can refer to any god (although of course if a Christian were speaking we may assume they were referring to the Christian God).
Not in all Romance languages. In Romanian god=zeu, and God=Dumnezeu (from the latin domine deus).
It’s not the only one, but it’s the most important (after all, it appears twice). In casual writing, 'ה (H) is often written instead of YHWH.
Rot, Allah is the word for God used by Arabic speaking Christians.
Same word for both in Finnish (Jumala, jumala).
And when written, we’ll opt for one or both of the following: (1) insert a hyphen between the first two letters, (2) substitute the letter Kuf (usually transliterated as K or Q) in place of the Heh (H).
It is noteworthy that Hebrew does not have capital letters, so these substitutions / deliberate misspellings are the only solutions. English’s ability to easily distinguish between the true God and a false god does not exist in Hebrew. This means that in situations where misspellings are not tolerated – such as in a Torah scroll – the exact same spelling is used for both, and one must rely on context or tradition to know which meaning was intended.