Balashon - Hebrew Language Detective
Posted: 26 March 2007 05:07 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Even though I have no Hebrew, I found this blog, Balashon, Hebrew Language Detective, engrossing.

I’ll let the author introduce the blog himself:

“I’m a native English speaker, but live in Israel and love the Hebrew language. On this site I investigate Hebrew - Biblical, Talmudic, Medieval and Modern - including slang; related languages like Aramaic, Arabic, Akkadian and Yiddish; and how foreign languages like Greek, Latin and English have entered Hebrew - and how Hebrew has affected those languages as well. I discuss the meanings of words, with a focus on etymology. I’m not a professional linguist, and will be using this blog to explore my own questions, and I welcome yours as well.”

For an aperitif, try this fascinating entry on Hebrew numbers.

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Posted: 26 March 2007 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Very nice!

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Posted: 26 March 2007 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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LH, I believe you once described aldi as “the indefatigable aldiboronti.” How very apt. Once again, aldi, a great find. Interesting even to those of us with no knowledge of Hebrew.

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Posted: 26 March 2007 12:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I believe I did, and he’s given me no reason to change the description.  I have no idea how he does it, but I’m glad he does.

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Posted: 27 March 2007 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It’s a very interesting site, aldi, and I hope to learn something from it. To run a site like that (or to participate actively) you have to have a great deal of Hebrew knowledge --- that is, you have to be on reasonably familiar terms with a huge body of Hebrew literature --- Bible, Talmud, Mishna, and everything else written in Hebrew since then. Hebrew literature is chock full of allusions (and of allusions to allusions, and so on) and to understand it, you’ve got to know what’s being alluded to. And there’s an enormous amount of word-play. Here’s an elementary example, at about the extreme limit of my literary depth: the site is called “Balashon”: Prefix “Ba-” (in the), “lashon” (tongue or language) = “In the language”. But I think there’s a play on words intended. “Balash” (beth-lamed-shin) is an investigator (in modern Hebrew, it’s the word for a police detective). “Balshanut” is (more or less) the investigation of the meaning of words. The suffix “-on” tacked on to the end of a noun in modern Hebrew, can be a kind of affectionate diminutive; so “Balashon” can also be read, approximately, as “Little Word Detective”. And that’s the first word of the blog --- just for starters. Move over, happydog. Make room for me.

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Posted: 27 March 2007 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Thanks for explaining that, lionello—that’s really interesting.

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