E 0962ááááááááá VEIL

The English word "veil" is of Germanic origin

H 1031 ááááááááááן ו ל י וáááááá ááááááááááááááá

Concept of root : hiding curtain

feil

áHebrew word

pronunciation

English meanings

ן ו ל י ו

wilon

curtain

Related English words

veil á

Comparison between European words and Hebrew

Languages

Words

Pronunciation

English meanings

Similarity in roots

Hebrew

ן ו ל י ו

wilon

curtain

w . l .

English

veil

veil

v . l

Latin

velum

velum

curtain, veil

w . l

Middle Dutch

wilen; falie ;

feil

wilen ;

fali ;

to veil;

veil, mantle;

cloth

w . l ; . f . l.

 

 

Proto-Semitic *WIL-ON --- *VĒL- Indo-European

 

 

Both Latin and Hebrew have here a suffix, respectively "-um" and "-on" for the forming of a noun on the basis of an existing root.

 

Note:
  • Hebrew. In this word we see the Waw in its two functions, the basic one at the beginning, as the consonant W. The other one as a reading help that tells one should pronounce a vowel O where the waw stands.

     

    The last part of the word wilon, " – on ", is a suffix that is identical to one of the suffixes that Greek uses to the same end : " -ον , -on". In Greek such nouns are neuter, but Hebrew does not know the neuter gender .

 

Note:
  • Latin has this same root in the verb "velare" that stands for " to cover, (en)shroud " . There is some debate about the relation between "velum" as above and "velum" for "sail (of a ship). We see a root for "to cover, hide, enshroud". The means people found out to this end were pieces of woven material. This "velum" like "wilon" began to mean such woven cloth. From there it is not a long step to carry that word forward to indicating other pieces of cloth used as sails. This does not mean that "velum" was any kind of cloth, but only that it happened to be used also for "sail", probably on the personal initiative of a single important person.

 

Note:
  • Hebrew. This word "wilon" is found in Post Biblical texts and as usual in these cases, a similarity with Greek or Latin induces scholars to think that the Hebrew word has been borrowed. In this case the lender would have been Latin with the word "velum". "Curtain" is but one of the many meanings of this Latin noun.

     

    First of all we must take into consideration that the Jews, understanding perfectly well Latin, had no linguistic necessity to change so thoroughly the word they would have liked : velum > wilon. Secondly, it must be noted that "wilon" had two different plural forms : "wilonot " and "wilÓ’ot". This second plural is spelled ו י ל א ו ת and this throws some more light on its origin. There would be little reason to introduce an Aleph into the Latin word one wanted to pronounce and borrow. And that plural without the N shows clearly that the word "wilon" had a suffix "on" to form it as a noun.

 

Note:
  • Proto-Semitic. A related word may be the Hebrew verb " ל ו ט ,L W TH, loth" that says " to veil, wrap" and that has an Akkadian cousin "lithu" = "curtain", like our "wilon". Besides the root "L W TH" there is also a version "L Aleph TH": " ל א ט ,L Aleph TH, l'ath" that says " to cover (lightly)" . We can compare this with the mentioned two versions of plural for "wilon", that are "wilonot" and "wil'aot", with the second one not having that N and sharing the Aleph with "l'ath". We certainly are far away from just loaning a Latin word.

     

    Proto-Semitic may indeed have used a root "* ו ל א, W L Aleph" and as well a root "* ל ו ט , L W TH" for the concept of "lightly covering" as can be done with veils or wrappings.

 

Note:
  • Middle Dutch is interesting as it has a verb "wilen" for "to veil", that is very near to Hebrew. Obviously this is a word that is of Germanic and thus Indo European origin, with the absolute impossibility of any action of loaning from Latin "velum".

     

    Middle Dutch also has another word with the same root, that is "feil" used for a less fine piece of cloth that also can be used as a floorcloth.

     

    Useful is to see that this root, with its adaptations, has followed also an independent road towards Middle Dutch, without passing via Latin.

 

Note:
  • English "veil" is wrongly considered as a loanword from French, that has "voile". If, as is said, the word came into English via the Norman conquest, it is not clear why the important Latin and French meaning of "sail" was not carried on. The Normandic French-speakers might have more interest in sails than in curtains and veils.

     

    In older English there was also the version "vail", which recalls the two words of the sister language Middle Dutch. We prefer to consider English "veil" not as a loanword.

 

Note:
  • Proto-Germanic. As stated in the previous notes, Old English "vail" and Middle Dutch "wilen" and "feil" should not be considered as loanwords from Latin, but as of Germanic origin. The information is limited and a hypothesis for Proto-Germanic is not easy, but it might be "*V Ē L-", or in fact "*W Ī L-".

 

Note:
  • Indo-European. It has been tried to see "velum" as related to the roots for the concepts of "to weave" , but the difference between the consonants "L" and "B" or "V" is too important to be disregarded. The probability is that Latin and Germanic have their origin in an Indo-European "*V Ē L-".

 

 

 

 

 
Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 15/12/2012 at 11.48.44