Etymology Studies live

Yesterday, I heard that young Éva thought we should cheer for the Phillies because her dad’s name is Phil.

That reminded me of some other crazy intersections of words.

We usually drive on the parkway, but park on the driveway. Although, one can drive on the driveway (from the street to the garage) and also park on the parkway (if you aren’t too concerned about getting hit).

Why is it that kidnapping is a federal offense, while catnapping is merely an enjoyable pastime?

Why are things which are transported by ships called cargo and things transported by cars called shipment?

Why does your nose run and your feet smell?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Why do people recite at a play and play at a recital?

If people from Poland are called Poles, are people from Holland called be Holes? and are the Germans, Germs?

(A few of these and quite a few more can be found here.)

We laugh at these because we understand that the meaning resides in more than the form of the word. This is harder to see in another language and we are tempted to make connections where they do not exist. I think these English wordpairs highlight this type of (mis)understanding of language that we know as illegitimate semantic transfer.

If English isn’t enough of a potential hotbed of misapplied word etymology, try throwing Greek and Hebrew into the mix. Which is how you end up here:

9 thoughts on “Etymology Studies live

  1. Ros

    John 1 was spoken in Hebrew but written in Greek?!?! I’m afraid I didn’t get any further than that.

  2. Karyn Post author

    Oh, Ros, you must persevere and watch the entire thing. Really. This is what having only a little bit of language knowledge can do.

  3. Gary Manning


    Here’s my running internal dialogue as I am watching this video:
    -Uh-oh – a pastor talking about Greek. Watch out.
    -Oh no, he’s going to talk about rhema and logos – can’t these people learn how to do a word study? And can’t they learn to pronounce a short o?
    -Truly amazing. Now we know that Revelation was really spoken in Hebrew before being written in Greek.
    -Oh no – I can see it coming – is he going to connect aleph and tav to the d.o. marker in Hebrew in Gen 1:1?
    -Yikes, he is. I’m not sure which is more scary, that he made that connection, or that I saw it coming.
    -Amazing – no one knows what et means in Hebrew? I remember learning it in week 2 of beginning Hebrew.
    -It’s amazing how he can put on that incredibly wise, thoughtful expression when he says “aleph and tav,” while not knowing what he is talking about.

    Ooh, very painful, but a good kind of pain. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Bob MacDonald

    I wondered if you would get any comments on this painful video. The poor fellow is looking for certainty and absolutes where there is a different kind of knowledge available but its absolutism is unspeakable. Still it may be that by the foolishness of such preaching, even the wrongly impressed will find themselves moving towards a refreshed image.

  5. Karyn Post author

    Bob, I struggle with these kinds of videos (and whether or not I should draw attention to them) because I vacillate between wanting to point out the misuse of language and recognizing that he is (probably) not trying to be deceptive/manipulative. On the one hand, his air of authority is distressing because I know an entire congregation is hanging on his every word as truth (and it’s not). On the other hand, his methodology seems to be simply an overly creative type of midrash (perhaps on steroids) and as you point out, may lead to a refreshed image. I don’t agree with what he is doing, but I don’t want to mock it either. It actually saddens me. There are a lot of people like this who are part of the Church, and as such, are brethren. How to lovingly relate, correct, challenge, and encourage are the tasks I wrestle with.

  6. Pingback: Much ado… or much to do?

  7. Nevada

    How do you do that with a d.o. marker? As someone commented above: that’s something you learn within the first couple of weeks of basic (I repeat, basic) Hebrew.

    I just love how he fails to point out that one way of construing what he says would make us all Arians (i.e., “God created Aleph-Tav”). Yet even by his own warped semantic logic how does he account for the “word” appearing twice? So, there were 2 “Words” back at the beginning? Maybe we should read it all appositionally (i.e., “God created Aleph-Tav, the heavens, and Aleph-Tav, the earth”) which means that Jesus is really the heavens and the earth which means that God is really the heavens and the earth (because of the Trinity–same essence) which means that we should all be pantheists or panentheists. 🙂

  8. Richard Ding

    Can you guys even consider the possibility that the alephtav is more than just a d.o.marker?

    Can you believe in the possubility of the Word hiding in plain sight all these thousands of years to those who have no revelation of Jesus?

    You don’t know for sure, do you?

    Don’t be so quick to scoff.

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