It has been through simple observation of words in various languages with which the writer has some, be it limited, acquantaince, that the impression was created that there might be a kind of relationship between some European languages and Hebrew. This rather vague statement needs to be placed into a more comprehensive texture.





First of all it is general, public knowledge that a very important group of European and Asian languages are of common descent. The mother-language has been called Indo-European, and the Group comprises nearly all European languages as well as the sub-group of Indo-Iranian tongues.


This latter group consists of two main branches. First Ancient Sanskrit with all its daughters, such as Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Assamese and Singhalese. Secondly Iranian, that has a.o. Persian, Kurdish, Baluchi and Pashto. There is some debate about the question if the ancient Anatolian languages Hittite, Lydian and Lycian are to be considered of Indo-European stock.


Some European languages that do not belong to the Indo-European group are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian and Basque .




It is also public knowledge that there is a Group of Semitic languages, to which Arabic and Hebrew belong. Other tongues of this block are ancient Babylonian and Assyrian, Aramaic ( very near to Hebrew) , ancient Canaanite and Phoenician (very near to Hebrew), and Ethiopic languages. Modern scholars have developed the view that Semitic forms a larger Group, called Afro-Asian, together with a.o. Ancient Egyptian, Berber, Tchad and some other African tongues.




It is generally accepted by scholars that the aforementioned Groups, together with basically many other Groups of languages, must have had a common ancestor, coined as "Nostratic". There is fierce debate about what this tongue should have been like.



Our observations have given us some doubts. Not so much on the existence of common ancestors or even a single ancestor, but as to the regular and consequent splitting up of languages. The image of a tree with branches and sub-branches might not quite cover the full real picture of linguistic development. The reason for this is that the physical splitting apart of tribes and nations may have been less mathematically drastic and definite. Switch-backs and re-splittings along different lines could have been a logical consequence of the way in which humans fight, make alliances, split and unite in the course of time, history and its events.





There is no doubt about the fact that enormous differences exist between Indo-European and Semitic. That means that even if we find a number of common roots, the resulting words will be very different between the two Groups. No wonder, if already within Indo-European languages the distances are as wide as they are.




Established the fact that the differences between the two Groups are so big, but yet relative, what can we expect to find in the sense of kinship ? Words have become too different and do not look like each other. The only possibility is to detect similar combinations of sounds that occur in words that have comparable meanings. Such combinations might represent common roots if the rules of the build-up of the words in the two Groups we are looking at, allow to consider those combinations as possible roots.




The older the linguistic source we tap, the greater the chances that we find roots with lesser changes. And it is among less-changed roots in both Groups that we can better discover a common origin. This is where luck comes in.


A common European, having received the common classic education from his parents, may have some acquaintance with the two classic languages of which there is very dependable written testimony : Greek and Latin. Useful is having some interest for and experience with several modern European languages from various Sub-Groups , such as Germanic and Romance. And naturally one must have access to the third classic language with ample clear written testimony : Hebrew, the language of the Bible.


This would still be insufficient, seen the important linguistic heritage of the Germanic tongues.
True, also these have changed very much, and written testimony is extremely poor. Nothing exists in writing of Germanic, spoken contemporarily with those other three, the Classics. But again luck comes in, as one of the Germanic languages seems, yes, to have changed very much during the centuries, but without alterating too much the basic roots of its words. We mean Dutch, that happens to be the writer' s mother tongue. We may find with relative frequence similarity of roots between Hebrew and Dutch.


The important European languages English, French, German and Russian have undergone many enormous and fundamental changes during the last fifteen centuries. Other very important ones as Spanish and Italian ( the writer's second language ) will contribute less as we have their ancestor Latin nicely available. We suppose that the more Eastern Indo-European languages as well as Celtic may have developed more consistant changes.





The origin of the name of the Dutch language is the same as that of Deutsch , as the Germans call their language . It indicates the language of the " people ", as distinguished from the Latin of the Roman Catholic Church . The Dutch call Germany "Duitsland " and the language " duits " . But in the Middle Ages the name for Dutch and German was one : " duutsch ", or "dietsch " in Flemish. Today in Flemish dialect the word for the German language is " Duts " and a German is called a " Dutser " !





The German language in the 5th and 6th century has been split in High German and Low German , as a consequence of important changes in sounds of speech in the middle and southern parts of the territory . The intensity of the changes varied locally , but the overall tendency was clear. Low German, spoken in the northern part, did not undergo those changes .


The North-Western part of the land where Low German was spoken , has only relatively participated in the political development that led to the Holy Roman Empire .


Rather soon the North-West has developed an economic and political independence , in what today is Holland.


These facts gave the language or dialects spoken in the northern part of those regions the possibility to become an independent national language, loosened from Low German : Nederlands or Dutch . When in the 16th Century Protestantism became important, the perhaps most important Church was called " Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk". Low German, within the German boundaries, later became heavily influenced by High German, that became the official language through political developments , but also through the influence of Luther .


The Flanders , politically less successful, lost part of their linguistic territory to French . Examples are the towns of Rijssel ( in French Lille ) and Arras , the town of the famous "arras" wall tapestries. A different kind of loss was particularly obvious in the town of Brussels, where the upper layers, maintaining Flemish family-names, became francophone. But notwithstanding a francophone political and social domination that lasted far into the 20th century , the Flemish have succeeded through sustained " language-battle" , to maintain their own language that has now fully unified with Dutch.


For our study a very important characteristic of Dutch lies in the fact that as an independent language it has been more faithful than English or German to the original West-Germanic roots . This notwithstanding the fact that the language has been greatly simplified and spelling has been adapted several times to changes in pronunciation. A similarity with Dutch in sound and meaning seems rather obvious in many Hebrew words, such as : ל ק ק , ל ע ג , ז י ד , and the prefix ב.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 29/05/2013 at 9.27.44