Avada kedavra (Harry Potter)

muhahaa

Member
Finnish
The killing curse in Harry Potter seems to come from roots '-b-d (loss, perishing) and d-b-r (word, thing, command).

לאבוד – to be lost, to stray, to perish – Hebrew conjugation tables
כ־ – like, as – Hebrew conjugation tables
דבר – thing, object; (in plural) words – Hebrew conjugation tables

Do these specific forms mean anything? Most of the magic words are some kind of modified Latin. Would loss (aveda) as words / a command be the best interpretation? I have also seen translations like "let the thing be destroyed" or "I will destroy as I speak".

How has "avada kedavra" been translated in Hebrew Harry Potter books?
 
  • slus

    Senior Member
    Hebrew - Israel
    Avada kedavra was transliterated, rather than translated, so it remained avada kedavra -
    אבדה קדברה
    It reminds if the traditional "magic words" abra kadabra, which originate from Aramaic/proto-Semitic, but it's changed to sound more sinister.
    אבדה does have a meaning of destruction too - יאבדו כל אויבנו for example.
    Kadavra is probably meant to remind cadaver, which is Latin in origin.
     

    muhahaa

    Member
    Finnish
    Does אבדה קדברה have a recognizable meaning to Hebrew readers?

    '-b-d also has death-related derivations like hit'abed (commit suicide) and Avadon/Abaddon (realm of the dead or hell).
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    J.K. Rowling got this phrase from one of the proposed etymologies of "abra cadabra". There are many theories that this phrase comes from Aramaic and that the first word is either עברא, or עבדא, or אבדה and that the second word is possibly כדברא. Nothing is known for certain regarding this phrase. I have know idea which interpretation J.K. Rowling personally had in mind when she came up with the name of the spell.
     

    bazq

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    J.K. Rowling got this phrase from one of the proposed etymologies of "abra cadabra". There are many theories that this phrase comes from Aramaic and that the first word is either עברא, or עבדא, or אבדה and that the second word is possibly כדברא. Nothing is known for certain regarding this phrase. I have know idea which interpretation J.K. Rowling personally had in mind when she came up with the name of the spell.
    Indeed the etymology of "Abracadabra" is dubious, but I'd guess J.K Rowling had the אבדה כדברא meaning in mind since this spell in the Harry Potter universe is the death spell, the forbidden curse which takes a person's life when cast. So the אבדה כדברא meaning makes sense as the person literally dies when you utter the spell :).
    Obviously, we can't know for sure what she had in mind (unless OP asks her on twitter or something), but everything fits.
     

    muhahaa

    Member
    Finnish
    What's the usual meaning and pronunciation of "כדברא"? Is the "א" some kind of a suffix? Would "כדברה" be different?
     

    slus

    Senior Member
    Hebrew - Israel
    א is an Aramaic suffix. There are quite a few Aramaic loan-words in Hebrew.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    What's the usual meaning and pronunciation of "כדברא"? Is the "א" some kind of a suffix? Would "כדברה" be different?
    First of all, it would be Aramaic, not Hebrew. But second of all, this is all speculative so nothing is really known. A word דברא does not even exist in Aramaic as far as I'm aware. It could have been created for this "spell", but its pronunciation would still not be known.
     

    slus

    Senior Member
    Hebrew - Israel
    First of all, it would be Aramaic, not Hebrew. But second of all, this is all speculative so nothing is really known. A word דברא does not even exist in Aramaic as far as I'm aware. It could have been created for this "spell", but its pronunciation would still not be known.
    True, but it wasn't created for Rolling's spell.
    אברה קדברה
    Or the same pronunciation with any other spelling, such as אברא כדברא has been used as a "spell word" by muggle magicians for ages.
     

    shalom00

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Actually, דברא does exist in Aramic. Jastrow's ספר מילים, for example, has three different entries for it. The first meaning "drive" or "way of moving", the second being a plural meaning bees, and the third meaning pasture or field.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    True, but it wasn't created for Rolling's spell.
    אברה קדברה
    Or the same pronunciation with any other spelling, such as אברא כדברא has been used as a "spell word" by muggle magicians for ages.
    I was talking about the reconstructed original word. See my previous posts in this thread.

    Actually, דברא does exist in Aramic. Jastrow's ספר מילים, for example, has three different entries for it. The first meaning "drive" or "way of moving", the second being a plural meaning bees, and the third meaning pasture or field.
    Yes, but none of those have to do with speech. I didn't mean that no word with the spelling "דברא" existed, but that no word with this spelling and intended meaning existed.
     

    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    Hey! Is it difficult to search in Wiki? אברא כדברא "[let's it'll be made] according to my uttered [wish]!" is not Aramaic but Judeo-Aramaic Medieval magic formula for amulet, nine letters. It is written in the shape of turned triangle and put into a kind of Tefillin.
    Abracadabra - Wikipedia
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Hey! Is it difficult to search in Wiki? אברא כדברא "[let's it'll be made] according to my uttered [wish]!" is not Aramaic but Judeo-Aramaic Medieval magic formula for amulet, nine letters. It is written in the shape of turned triangle and put into a kind of Tefillin.
    Abracadabra - Wikipedia
    That Wikipedia article, first of all, does not say anything about it being Judeo-Aramaic or anything about it being medieval.

    Do you read your own links?

    It says it is first attested in Latin in the second century AD.

    And again, as I said before, the origin and meaning are speculative. You can't use Wikipedia's assertion as evidence.
     

    muhahaa

    Member
    Finnish
    First of all, it would be Aramaic, not Hebrew. But second of all, this is all speculative so nothing is really known. A word דברא does not even exist in Aramaic as far as I'm aware. It could have been created for this "spell", but its pronunciation would still not be known.
    Apparently א is the definite article suffix in Aramaic.
     
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