"הרופא שותֶה בירה אך ורק ביום שישי."
Translation:The doctor drinks beer exclusively on Friday.
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This expression is still screwing with me, to be honest. Does anyone have an etymological explanation for how we get אך ורק to mean "exclusively"?
I mean, check it: The doctor drinks beer so totally just on fridays.
Alright, great. But, I've come to know אך to be used as "but" in a variety of cases and רק, of course, is "only." So אך ורק looks like "but and only." Doesn't look like "exclusively" to me. I mean, I kinda do hear it, but I'm not satisfied yet.
Strong's has the ancient אך translating as "surely" quite commonly. So if we went with surely and only it kinda works but sounds bad. If we changed "surely" to "definitely" and threw out the "and" we would get a great-sounding sentence: The doctor drinks beer definitely just on fridays.
Sounds great, right? But the "and" is still in there so אך can't mean "definitely" and רק can't mean "just." Does anyone have another point of view to help parallel this to English? (Yeah, it really CAN be done, guys. Done it hundreds of times.)
It's simpler than you imagine. אך has two meanings: "but"/"however", and "only". The "only" meaning is synonymous with רק. So אך ורק simply says the same thing twice, in different words, for emphasis.
(Note: in both senses, אך is archaic or very formal in itself. It's still used in some set phrases, such as this one.)
Now, you may ask how comes it got these two seemingly-unrelated senses, "but" and "only". I don't have a clear answer, but I think this happened in many languages, including... English. IIUC "But" has an archaic / very formal meaning of "only", as in "I drink but coffee" or "he is but a child". Maybe the "only" meaning was first, and then it was used in contexts like "I don't drink beer, but water", from which it acquired the "negation"/"opposed" meaning?
I think that's wrong because of the "but" -- that would be something more like הרופא שותה בירה אבל רק ביום שישי. Your version is a statement (the doctor drinks beer) followed by a qualifier (but only under the condition that it's Friday), whereas the given sentence is just a statement of the doctor's beer-drinking rules. They have approximately the same meaning, but it's a different sentence.
The plural usage in, say, I go to work on Saturdays unambiguously states that you always (or at least, regularly) work on that day. The singular could be used with the same meaning, but in some contexts it might just mean you (will) work on one specific Saturday (usually, the next one after time of speaking).