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  5. "אני לא אוהב שמן."

"אני לא אוהב שמן."

Translation:I don't like oil.

June 24, 2016



The word שמן has two meanings: oil = shemen and fat (as in a fat person, as an adjective) = shamen (sg masc). Its written the same but these are two different words. In this sentence the only acceptable meaning is oil. As somebody already explained, fat (noun) is שומן.


I wonder if the Latin word 'semen' meaning 'seeds' which was borrowed into English with a slightly different meaning originally came from the Hebrew 'shemen' or their similarity is a coincidence.


That's quite the leap of logic.

Latin sēmen has been traced back to the reconstructed Indo-European word *séh₁mn̥, which is a combination of seh₁- ("to sow") and the suffix -mn̥ which creates nouns from verbs. It's basically the equivalent of if you were to create the word "sowment" nowadays. By the time Hebrew and Greek were coming into regular contact, this word had diverged enough that in Ancient Greek it was ἧμᾰ hêma.

Moving on to Hebrew: the word for oil in the East Semitic language Akkadian was šamnu (š = sh), clearly cognate. In Arabic, سمين sameen means "fat" (the adjective). The word for "oil" comes from زيت zayt, "olive". In Ugaritic, Punic and Aramaic, šmn is "oil", "fat", and "butter". The fact that words related to "fat" and "oil" from the same root appear in so many Semitic languages suggests they all trace back to a Proto-Semitic root šmn. Given all this, I think it's fairly conclusive that there is no connection between Latin sēmen and Hebrew שמן.


Thank you for the detailed explanation. So it is just a peculiar coincidence.


Wait, so you mean to tell me that Greek does not come from Hebrew? This has to do with the Hellenization of certain nations Greece influenced, right?


Thought the same. Sounded close to the Latin word.


"Same" is the word most representative for the family of meanings. "To sum" is related to "sowing together" and it implies the growth (fattening) of a multitude s well likeness (one can only sum things that are same). The mental faculty of grouping things that are alike is "summing up into a category the things that share same trates". This group will be a category of things that will give its name to the same. And name is "shem". Groups of beings of the same genetic filiation will be "same seed". Thus "semen" is indeed related to summing up beings and giving them the same name - they are created from same seed. Oil mostly comes from plant seeds. When applied to a surface, it has the property of "staying the same" as opposed to water that readily evaporates. For this reason it can be used to mark things (sometimes to make them dirty: shame on you!)


Your passage is a good example of folk etymology which has nothing to do with reality. The words ‘same’, ‘sum’ and ‘shame’ have different origins and none of them has anything to do with ‘shemen’.


Hey Dmitry -- I think probably Hugo was mainly poeticizing rather than etymologizing, and the artful exploitation of sound patterns to suggest semantic overlaps and interpenetrations has forever been a trick of poets -- yes, no,maybe ??


Why is fat not an acceptable translation?


I'm pretty sure fat (n.) is "שומן".


also wondering whether fat is an acceptable translation!


Since the other translation was "fat", does this mean oil as in grease or like cooking oil (olive/canola/vegetable oil)?


Both :) shemen could be either oil, or grease. but fat (the thing you eat, or have in your body) is Shooman. a fat person is Shamen.


That has been my understanding of the word.


How about "I don't want oil"?


That would be אני לא רוצה שמן.


They should have made it clearer the version of fat it refers to besides adjective. If it's only a person that's not enough to say adjective,. It's not implied either.

[deactivated user]

    I heard "an lo" rather than "anee lo". Even listened to it after answering and the pronunciation is messed up.


    I definitely hear a brief /i/ there. Regardless, Hebrew speakers would often pronounce it /anlo/. A nice musical example, in a surprising huge hit from the '80s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqUNJFMydtU


    That makes sense of not liking oil without the food to drop it on

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