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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Subject: The Word
Question: Good morning.

Here is an interesting one. Do you have any information or could you
expound on the relationship between the words: Urim (Hebrew), Aurum
(Latin), Oro (Spanish), Ore, Or (That's the French isn't it). Urim is from
the Bible. Also, I was wondering if these words are related to the
name of the ancient middle eastern place called Ophir (in the Bible
too). I'm thinking that in the Bible when it says ''the Urim...'' that it is
talking about ''the shiny, brilliant, gold-like things'' sort of. Plural of
course because ''im'' in Hebrew makes things plural. Aurora, Aura are
obviously all related.

Thanks a lot.

Reply: Your comparison of Hebrew with three Romance languages is really a comparison of Hebrew to Latin or more likely Italic, the ancestor of Latin. Some of the Indo-European languages, including Latin, Greek, Anatolian, and Albanian, are, like Hebrew, Mediterranean languages, with a lot of cultural contact over a long period of time. Lexical similarities between Italic and Semitic languages are largely due to that contact and the lexical borrowing that results from it.

There have been proposals of genetic relationship between Semitic and Indo-European, but these have not found general acceptance among comparative and historical linguists. Genetic relationship means that the languages descend from a common parent. The similarities between Semitic and Indo-European are more likely the result of long-term cultural contact.
Reply From: Herbert Frederic Stahlke      click here to access email
Date: 10-Jan-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: The Word    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (10-Jan-2013)
  2. Re: The Word    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (10-Jan-2013)

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