Hebrew roots

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by Terrible123, Mar 25, 2011.

  1. Terrible123 New Member

    English - Australia
    I'm leafing through the book How the Hebrew Language Grew by Edward Horowitz, and I'm on a chapter which is filled with many questions (easy, intermediate and difficult) on why words mean what they mean. You're meant to know or find the primitive root to a word, and try to make the connection between it and the modern meaning. Here are the first three questions so you can see what I'm talking about.

    For number 1 I answered "because the root of shavua is sheva, which means seven." I checked the answer and I was right. This is the only one I actually knew. For 2 I and 3 I just googled to get the roots. The answers are:

    Making the connection between the root and the modern word is meant to be an intellectual exercise (the chapter's called "How bright are you?"), but I only knew the root of the first word (shavua). I can't guess the root, and what the meaning of it is.

    So basically: I need to download a list of all the hebrew roots. I've seen some awkward Christian websites where you can paste the English transliteration of the word and get the root, but I'd rather just have a big PDF list of the roots in front of me that I can search more quickly. Can anyone help me out? Thanks.
  2. origumi Senior Member

    I guess you can find root tables as an appendix of comprehensive dictionaries. Not sure about web resource. However, this will not be of any help in many cases. Roots out of context are merely arbitrary combinations of 3 letters. To be able to tell verb's or noun's verbal root one needs to possess adequate knowledge of the language.

    Regarding question #3: the meaning of root `rb (= `rv) as "setting (down)" in modern Hebrew was lost. Therefore an Israeli is not likely to provide the answer you mentioned, but another one: ma`arav is where the sun goes at the `erev, evening. Linguistic education or Arabic knowledge is needed in order to trace ma`arav back to `rv = "setting of the sun".
  3. Terrible123 New Member

    English - Australia
    I see that I won't be able to get any meaning from the root, but if I have the full word, e.g. computer (machshev) I could make a guess that the root is (ch-sh-v), then I'd put that into Google Translate and get the meaning of it, which is thought/thinking, and see the obvious connection between that and a computer.
  4. ks20495 Senior Member

    Hebrew and English
  5. daninzurich New Member

    German Swiss
    try hebrew.ch - activate english version - click on verb roots - you'll find what you're looking for.
  6. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    Shalom origumi,

    Are you saying the meaning of "setting down" is traced back through Arabic? Because this root (gh-r-b) actually means to go away or to become estranged. Hence the "going away" of the sun, which we then use for the setting of the sun.

    Or was "setting down" a meaning found from ancient Hebrew?
  7. origumi Senior Member

    What I tried to say is that in Hebrew root `rb means only "west" or "evening". A meaning like "setting down" is lost or very weak. Reading השמש מעריבה the Hebrew speaker will understand "the sun is going west" or "the sun is going to its evening destination" and only metaphorically "the sun is setting down".

    There are idioms like בערוב ימיו "at the setting (= late days) of his life" which are based, I guess, on an original meaning of the root as "setting" or "going away", but this is not enough to establish this meaning in the mind of the (modern and I think also Biblical) Hebrew speaker.

    To be able to tell that there was originally a more basic meaning to `rb, "to go away" or "to become estranged", the Hebrew speaker needs to get help of a sister language like Arabic, or have linguistic knowledge.

    (There are some other meaning to root `rb which are irrelevant to this discussion - most likely they are not the same `rb, only look like it).
  8. ks20495 Senior Member

    Hebrew and English
    Just to clarify...The Arabic letters ghayn and `ayin are collapsed into one letter in Hebrew - `ayin.

    Therefore, the root that was originally gh-r-b meaning "west"/"setting of the sun" looks identical to the root `-r-b meaning Arab.
  9. origumi Senior Member

    There are several other appearances of this root and I didn't bother to investigate the origin of each:

    * ערבון, ערבוּת, להתערב (guarantee, deposit, bet?)
    * לערב, לערבב, להתערב (mix, mingle)
    * עורב (crow)
    * ערבה (willow)
    * ערבה (wilderness)
    * עֵרֶב (woof)
    * עָרֵב (pleasant)
    * ערוב (wild animals)
  10. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    Ahh so you mean setting down is a derived meaning, not the original meaning? In Arabic also it is a derived meaning, the base meaning being that of going away, departing, becoming estranged.

    This meaning exists in OSA, but I don't think it exists in Arabic, but this is ayin, not ghayin, so is actually a different root.

    This also exists in Arabic, and with ghayin (indicating it may be derived from the root in question).

    Yes, as they did in most of the Semitic languages, excluding Arabic, Ugaritic & the Old South Arabian languages.
  11. origumi Senior Member

    In Hebrew the meaning of "going away, departing, becoming estranged" does not exist (or maybe it is in ancient literature such as the poetical parts of the Bible? I don't remember such case).

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