1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Hebrew
  4. >
  5. "שתיים, ארבע, שש, שבע."

"שתיים, ארבע, שש, שבע."

Translation:Two, four, six, seven.

July 6, 2016

14 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gerardd88

Are the names of the numbers in Hebrew related to some European languages in any way? I don't think it's very likely but it's incredible how familiar the words for six and seven sound.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlmogL

Yes it's interesting, but as numbers would be some of the most ancient words in a language, it seems they all come from a shared source, related in the very remote past. Some number words are similar across very remotely related languages.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gerardd88

Well, we can assume things but so far, as far as I know, all the theories proposing an universal "proto-human" language have been widely rejected by scientists. We have the hipothetic roots from Proto-Indo-European but I don't know much about the etymology of the Hebrew numerals. Maybe they were borrowed/affected by an IE language. Someone should look for their etymology in Hebrew. But I don't think it's likely that they're somehow connected.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Snommelp

For European languages at least, I can see seven (and maybe some others) coming from Hebrew, since the Bible played/plays such a prominent role in European cultures.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gerardd88

It sure did. But I don't think it's the best argument in this case. Do you have any sources to back up this theory?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Snommelp

None, which is why I only said that I could see it being the case, rather than trying to claim it as truth.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gerardd88

I understand. Someone should probably google more in Hebrew to find out anything about it. But if this is just a coincidence, it's a pretty amazing one :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Snommelp

Well, the online etymological dictionary claims that "seven" comes (ultimately) from the Proto-Indo-European "septm," along the same linguistic branch as other Germanic languages. And "septm" is also claimed as the root of the Latin "septem" (makes sense) which would make it the root for all of the Romance languages as well. Considering the time period that Hebrew is believed to have developed as a distinct language, cross-contamination probably would've gone the other way. Don't know if that's likely, either, since שבע is supposed to be connected to the word for resting. But the PIE "septm" is argued to have always been related to the number.

So after that quick bit of digging, I'm now more inclined to believe it's a very strange coincidence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/israellai

agreed! it's very eerie when you notice it (with the help of that many european languages)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Keldenich

what I find even more strange is that the japanese word for "name" sounds so similar (名前="namae"), especially to german... all the years I wondered how that could be, and I still do haha


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aerologia

Well, if you watch Kimi no Na wa[君の名は]ーa great film I'd sayーyou would realize that 名[na] is the word that means "name", while 前[mae] means "in front". It's a super coincidence, which makes us wonder how many other unrelated words with meanings out there; i.e. false cognates. I mean, even 坊や[bo•ya], which means "boy" sounds too close for comfort to not be related to the English word.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IngeborgHa14

Well, as Hebrew has שֵׁשׁ and שֶׁ֫בַע, Aramaic שִׁית and שְׁבַע and Arabic سِتَّة and سَبْعَة, its original form must be something like ʃidθ- and ʃabʿ, while Proto-European is postulated to have swéḱs and septḿ̥. I personally do not find them incredible similar, but judge yourself.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AugelloG

Well, in the creationism, there are very well sustained theories, of course we can't forget the Babylon Tower event. It has an effect of waves (like a stone on a lake) on the cultures when expanding through the world.. the farthest ones, the lesser developed. (But no his languages)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IngeborgHa14

Well, ..., yes, it is true that there are no primitive languages, even hunter-gatherer societies have fully developped, fully expressive languages with complex grammar.

Learn Hebrew in just 5 minutes a day. For free.