E 0539 LIGHT

The word " light " is of Germanic origin .

H 0542 ט ה ל

Concept of root : intense glowing

Hebrew word

pronunciation

English meanings

ט ה ל

lihth

to burn, glow

Related English words

light, Old English leoht, liht

Comparison between European words and Hebrew

Languages

Words

Pronunciation

English meanings

Similarity in roots

Hebrew

ט ה ל

lihth

to burn, glow, flash

l (i)h . th

Greek

λευκος

-

λυχνος

lekos;

-

lkhnos

shining , brillant;

light

l (u) k

Latin

luceo

-

-

lux

lukeo

-

-

lux

to shine,

be brillant,

give light;

light

l (u) c

Old English

leoht , liht

light

l . (o) h t

l (i) h t

English

light

light

l (i) gh t

Old High German

liuhten;

lioht

liuhten;

lioht

to shine;

light

l (o) h t

Middle High German

lieht

liht

light

l (i) h t

High German

leuchten;

Licht

loykhten;

likht

to shine; light

l (i) kh t

 

 

Proto-Semitic *LIHÈTH --- *LŪKHT < *LŪK- Indo-European

 

 

The first artificial light Man was able to use, consisted of flames and fire. Understandably the glowing of fire has led to words for light. Really, also the so-called incandescent lamps we use have the glow of fire in them, a very slowly consuming and strongly glowing fire that ends by eating the heated metal with the help of electric current. The metal would remain if it could resist the current, but it is uncapable of defending itself.

 

It seems clear that the Hebrew root has remained nearer to the origin of fire , flames and consequent shine.

 

The Hebrew root " ל ה ט , L H TH" is related to " L H B, ל ה ב , lahav "that says "flame". This is a classic example of the way Hebrew has built various roots of three-consonants on the basis of an older one with only two consonants, in this case "*L H".

 

 

Note:
  • English, like German shows in its ancient versions still the same H that was present in Hebrew.

 

Note:
  • Vowels. We have shown between brackets also the vowels in the "similarity" –formulas, not because they are with certainty part of the root, but because they happen to be identical between Hebrew and modern Germanic tongues. In reality, it is probable that they have been derived from a W, O or U-sound as found in older Germanic as well as Greek and Latin. This is the case also with the I , that often has developed out of O.

 

Note:
  • Hebrew. Already in Genesis the root " L H TH " is used to express the "flashing" of a sword.
    This is a use that is no more linked to literal fire and flames and it is in line with the overall development of words for "shine" and "light".

 

Note:
  • Proto-Semitic. This Hebrew root is also seen in Aramaic "ל ה ט , lehath = to burn" and Syriac "א ת ל ה ט, etleheth = was set on fire, burned". Akkadian has "la'ātu = (the fire) consumed" .

     

    We do not see this root as related to "ל ע ט , L Ayin TH" for "to swallow greedily", though fire often may seem to do so .The origin is different. One is related to the concept of "throat" that is expressed in the roots with Ayin, found in several entries of our List. The other is related to the movement and actions of fire, also seen in some entries.

     

    The root of this entry may have been used already in Proto-Semitic : "*ל ה ט , L H TH". For the comparison we follow the intensive form as seen in Hebrew, that probably existed already.

 

Note:
  • Hebrew and Germanic have in common the final TH-, respectively T-sound. This T is not found in Greek and Latin. The difference between Germanic and Hebrew remains that the common words for "light" and "lighten" in Hebrew have been built on other roots.

 

Note:
  • Greek and Latin as remarked do not have the T at the end of these words. The principal meaning of Greek "leukos" in modern language has become that of "white", though in common language it has lost ground in favor of "aspros".

 

Note:
  • "L . M-"-root in Latin and English. There are other words for "light " , like Latin "lumen" and Old English "lēoma" with only the first part common with the words of this entry.

 

Note:
  • Proto-Germanic. Most languages have an initial "L" and a final dental that usually but not always is a "T". In the Nordic languages there is no final dental. The modern words and their predecessors are : Norwegian "lys < ljs", Swedish "ljus<liūs", Danish "lys<liūs", Icelandic "ljs". Also in Old High German, with the nouns "lioth" and "liuhta" as well as the verb "liuhten" ( compared with Gothic "liuhtjan") we find without the dental the adjective "liehsen", probably derived from "*leohsan", and in which the "N" is a suffix for the shaping of that adjective .

     

    Norwegian "lys < ljs" is seen as coming from an older form with guttural "H" : "*leuhsa = to light", but there is no further evidence besides the reason that the "H" was very often present in Germanic languages in general. Consequently we have no certain explanation for the Scandinavian lack of a final dental . Probably Proto-Germanic had a form "*L IU H T" or "*L IO H T".

     

Note:
  • Hebrew and Indo European. Hebrew "lihhth = to burn, set ablaze" has a root "L H TH" and it is related to the Hebrew root "L H B " that says "to flame". One root with a third consonant "TH" and one with a third consonant "B" after the guttural second consonant "H". In Indo European we see Germanic words with a third consonant "T" after a guttural second consonant, that varies from "H" to "GH". And in Latin and Greek we have a guttural second consonant but no third consonant at all.

     

    Besides the similarity between the third consonants in both Hebrew and Germanic, attention to the vowels is worthwhile. Vowels are used in the further defining or refining of the basic messages of Hebrew roots. We cite in the case of the root "L H TH": "lahath = to flame, blaze up", "lihhth to burn, set ablaze", "luhhath = to be set ablaze". Latin and Greek have a vowel "U", and also older Germanic languages have "U" or "O". Even is modern German "Leucht" besides "Licht" there still is a vowel "U". Middle Dutch had various forms, such as "licht, lecht, liecht, lucht", the last one having maintained an old vowel "U", in a pronunciation "Ŭ".

     

    There is further information from other groups.

     

    Old Indian has changed the initial "L" into "R" and uses a vowel "O" instead of "U" in "rōkágh; rócatē; rōcaná-; rocá = light; shines, gives light; shining; light, lustre".

     

    Avestan also changed the initial "L" into "R" in "raočant-; raočah-; raoshna- = shining; light; brilliant, light".

     

    Celtic offers Old Irish "luchair; luauchtide; lōche = shine; shining, lightning". Cymric "lluched" and Old Cornish "luhet" both mean "light".

     

    Armenian contributes "lois gen. lusoy = light".

     

     

    The impression this wide information gives is that the important phenomenon of light has been expressed using an initial consonant " L ", that originally was followed by a vowel " Ū". But that vowel in many cases has developed either into " Ō " or into ( perhaps also afterwards) a vowel " Ī ". The second vowel may have been originally " K ", that in a number of cases changed into "KH" or "H". Thus Indo-European may have had first of all "*L Ū K-", the form that lived on unharmed into Latin. Then the adding of a final dental should have occurred already in Indo-European, giving a form "*L Ū KH T-". It is conceivable that this development, at least at the outset, was linked to a diversification for man-lit light.

 

 

 

 

 
Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 25/09/2013 at 10.33.21