Sunday, June 25, 2017

Don't give me any lip!


Meet the bilabial בי"ת + fricative זסש"ץ (& perhaps dental טת) family. There must be some self-esteem issues in this biliteral family, since they all seem kind of debased. Maybe a sign of abuse?
  • בס  trample
  • בש  shame, abase
  • בת  destroy/lay waste/cut off/desolate[1]
  • בט  beat/cancel/negate
  • בז  despise/despoil
  • בץ mud

(If בץ is indeed related, it seems to have reversed its misfortune somewhat. בצע rendered profit, בצק made some dough, and בצר turned to gold (or at least it’s productive by picking grapes or becoming fortified). Even בצל onion has some value. Kind of like how the modern settlers of Eretz Yisrael drained the swamps and got productive. Too bad they can’t do the same in Washington ;)  Or, is the core meaning of בצ about puffing up, as in ורגלך לא בצקה, and hence the other meanings?)

Anyway, in all seriousness, do you think all or any of these words might be related?

And if the above בי"ת roots are cousins, how about these, also bilabial, פ"א roots?
  • פט of פטיש hammer (which relates to פצ too: וכפטיש יפוצץ סלע)
  • פס piece/cease/ אפס = zero, total negation
  • פץ disperse/peel off/break/shatter/crush
  • פז disperse/dance wildly in a demeaning/humiliating manner[2]
  • פת piece/break into pieces

Are these פ"א words possibly second cousins?

I know that some of you here might not recognize מ"ם as part of the bilabial family (but primarily as a nasal), but if you see it as part of אותיות בומ"פ, do you see any connection of:
  • מת death
  • מט stumble or falter[3]
  • מז shriveled by hunger?
  • מס melt (& rot)
  • מצ chaff (worthless), sucked out?

Speaking of melting מס and מצ, it’s worth pointing out that the nasal bilabial מ"ם is also the symbol of מים water. Perhaps two more מ"ם biliterals imply negation but in a fluid-like way:
  • מג  also melt
  • מק – Rashi translates it as melt, as in ימקו בעונם etc
And once we’re into מ"ם + גיכ"ק, we might as well mention:

  • מך --  debased/low/poor/beat. Sounds like מק (melt) in וַיָּמֹכּוּ בַּעֲו‍ֹנָם[4]
  • מח – erase/blot out/beat/dissolve/watery[5]

Speaking of watery מ"ם connections, מט and מת also have a connection to מים. The very fact that liquid water sinks below (מטה) its icy solid is a unique and exclusive quality of H
O, and has made life possible here on earth.

And speaking of life (possible only with מים), only something that was once alive can die (מת), so מים is essential in the phenomenon called death מת. The same could be said about מך, as in "כי אנושה מכותיה" and "כל חלי וכל מכה" etc pertaining only to life.[6]

Even if you reject בומ"פ commonality, do you see any connection between all or any of the מ"ם biliterals above? Or do you dismiss מ"ם as a weak האמנתי"ו letter which can never be permanent radical?

And if you do accept bilabial בומ"פ commonality, how about we stretch things a bit further and add a רי"ש in front? Then we get:
  • רמס trample (think בס and maybe מס too)
  • רמשֹ low creepy oozy crawler
  • רפס trample (think בס)
  • רפשֹ also trample
  • רפשׁ mud (think בץ)
  • & maybe רפת stable (muddy lowly place?)

And lastly, if you will entertain the possibility of a secondary first-letter רי"ש, then do you see any connection between רמח (spear) and מח ? Spears can certainly be used to trample beat or blot out one's enemy. Or perhaps it is a combination of רמ and מח, since a spear can also be used to hoist up (רם raise) victim for all to see?[7] Presumably that was the case with Pinchas and his רמח.

Or are all these connections too broad or general to qualify as “similar synonyms”? Or do you think that any of the above might be related?

At the very least, if בס, בת & בט (ie trampling, destroying, cutting up, & beating) are indeed etymologically related to בש and בז (shaming and abasing), that provides a fascinating insight into the power of words. It seems that the old adage "Sticks and stones may break my bones..." may not be etymologically accurate after all!

Perhaps it was never accurate, not even during the "caveman" era. 

The take-home lesson is: let's stop trampling or beating people with our words!

[1] Could שבת in fact be a combination of שב + בת? I’ll attempt to address that theory in my next post. Furthermore, how does בת daughter relate to this? And what about בית home? Stay tuned to upcoming posts.
[2] At least according to Michal bas Shaul (see Shmuel II 6:16)
[3] Although מט might be from טה or נטה, as in "turn downward." (עיין יריעות שלמה). But the very fact that מ"ם connotes "downward" is significant. See below about physical property of water to descend. מה מים יורדים ממקום גבוה למקום נמוך וכו'…”Just as water descends from a high place to a low place…” (ראה תענית ז, סע"א. תניא פ"ד)
[4] Tehillim 106:43
[5] Although the same could be said for הך or נכה. However, הך can apply to non-living things too, like והכית בצור
[6]Speaking of מ"ם liquid connotation, מח also means moist fat & liquid bone marrow, as in ומח עצמותיו ישקה
[7]Or is it רמ + ח, hoisting up and lowering downward, as חי"ת might be symbolic of its meaning, חת, to descend?

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