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View Diary: Racist Pamela Geller at it Again (37 comments)

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  •  I don't claim to be an expert but (1+ / 0-)
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    I also studied Hebrew (as an adult); I also took some linguistics courses as an undergraduate. While obvious similarities are no guarantee, when you're talking about related languages, the often give things away if you give them even a moment of thought.

    One of the things I was taught was that Hebrew is not only an old language, it's relatively old for as WRITTEN languages go and so the construction of words is actually pretty transparent. Much of the basic vocabulary is composed of small groups of consonants; different meanings come from the vowels. You can get a very good sense of the derivations of words simply by paying attention to how they're constructed.

    Here's an interesting one for you: The Hebrew word for Passover is Pesach. The Spanish word for Easter is Pasqua. Of course many Arabic words entered the Spanish vocabulary as a result of centuries of Arab control of the Iberian Peninsula and it's possible that that is why the words have similar sounds but it also may be a more global, Mediterranean based collection of basic vocabulary that repeats over and over with slight variations all the way around the area, going back to antiquity.

    •  Most of the Passover words are similar (1+ / 0-)
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      and come from the Greek Páscha, which probably came from the Aramaic (which also used the Hebrew alphabet).  By the time you get to Spanish you're already at 2-3 removes via the Latin Pascha.

      Yes, Hebrew words are usually from a group of consonants, and it's not just the vowels that change.  There are prefixes, infixes and suffixes as well.  This isn't a process I studied formally, just what I noticed learning this in Hebrew school and noting related words.  Arabic seems to use the same constructions.

      One Hebrew to Arabic transformation I noticed is that they don't have the sh sound, so words that start with the letter shin in Arabic start with an s, not sh.  I'm also assuming they don't have the tz sound either.  I am wondering what sounds Arabic has that Hebrew does not.

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