Does Japanese come from Hebrew?Oct 8th, 2010 | By Adam
Yesterday morning Dictionary.com come sent me my word of the day. It was “Mana”, which they defined as ”a generalized, supernatural force or power, which may be concentrated in objects or persons”. A bit broad of a definition I thought for the stuff we all know was food as described in the book of Exodus. I was then surprised to discover that (according to dictionary.com) the word was “adopted into English from a Maori word meaning power, authority, supernatural power”. Huh? I had no idea that indigenous New Zealanders had so much influence in Jewish culture…not.
Either way, this week is the perfect opportunity to speak about the origin of language as the Torah portion is Noah which contains the famous story of the Tower of Babble. The story opens by telling us that “the whole Earth was of one language, one speech” or in Hebrew “Vayihee kol ha’aretz saphah akhat oodivarim akahdim”. Can you hear echoes of these words in our language? Could “whole” be related to “kol”? Could “Earth” come from “aretz”? And “speech” from “saphah”?
I posit to you that they indeed are and that if we learn a few basic rules of linguistics you will be able to see this for yourself…in any language.
The rules (in an iddy bitty nutshell):
Letter shifts-this means that certain sounds tend to substitute for each other. For instance, CH, S, TS and Z are frequently interchangeable. There are 5 categories of these shifts-fricatives, bilabials, gutturals, dentals and liquids.
Nasalization-means that M and N sounds sometimes get inserted in the middle of words. You can see the effect that this has for yourself in this little game: (try to match the words)
- A[n]tique Da[n]ce Ha[n]ker Ny[m]phet Ri[n]se Sha[m]poo Stu[m]p Sha[n]k Si[n]k Spa[n]k
- RaHaTS (to wash) SOOaKH (to bend down) TSaB (root of stubble) DaTZ(to leap, rejoice) ATiQ (ancient) SHooPH (to rub, polish) SHoaK (leg) NoEPHet (adulteress) KSaPHak (to clap/strike) HaQeH (to anticipate)
Metathesis-Root letters frequently switch places. Like flutterby becoming butterfly.
There, now you are all experts and can check this out all the time like I do. For instance, I was on the subway and saw a Verizon ad in Spanish that I did not understand. The word that caught my attention was “mensual” which I assumed must be related to our word menstruation, which is of course related to time. (Turned out “mensual” means monthly). So I broke down the word to its root letters (M, N, S). Using 2 principles of linguistics showed me that it came from Hebrew. I switched the S to a Z-a common letter substitution and then used metathesis to change the order to (Z, M, N). The Hebrew word for time is “ZMaN”…ta da!
Hmmm, I can hear you all saying, cute but just a coincidence. To that I ask how many examples would be required to prove it? 10? 100? What if I told you I could show you thousands of examples in dozens of languages and that English itself has borrowed scores of words from Hebrew like in these examples:
- Hebrew: Orah (light), Gaon, Taraph, Yediah (knowledge), Yesh, Ayin, Perot, Terufah (medicine)
- English: Aura, Genius, Trap, Idea, Is, Eye, Fruit ,Therapy
The Torah tells us that at one point there was only one language and despite what the Linguistic Industrial Complex likes to tell us with examples like “Mana” and many other strangely convoluted word origins, there is massive evidence to support its claim. For anyone interested in exploring this further please refer to these sources:
- The Origin of Speeches, Issac Mozeson
- The Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet, Rabbi Eliyahu Munk
- Coincidences in the Bible and Biblical Hebrew, Haim Shore
- The Cipher, Rabbi Zamir Cohen
- As for Japanese, check out The Biblical Origin of the Japanese People, Joseph Eidelberg
Also, it’s no coincidence that we are starting a new round of Hebrew reading and speaking classes next Monday the 18th! Check it out.