I’ve linked to Balashon, the “Hebrew Language Detective,” any number of times, since the detailed etymological investigations there are meat and drink to me, and I’m happy to report it’s reached its 500th post. I am also happy to report that thanks to readers clicking on Google and Amazon ads and links, “that small amount of income has allowed me to reinvest in resources”:
Just recently with that revenue, I was able to purchase a book I was interested in for a very long time, Michael Sokoloff’s A Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. This book, which was published in 2002, is a fantastic resource for researching Aramaic words from the Babylonian Talmud (of which many influenced later Hebrew words) and has in-depth etymologies as well. For today’s post, I thought I’d look at the methodology of Sokoloff, as well as a number of his predecessors, and hopefully you’ll get some insight into how I do the research for Balashon. The word I’m looking at is alunka אלונקה – “stretcher, litter”.
The post is long and full of images of dictionary pages; it’s the kind of thing I used to enjoy in Polyglot Vegetarian back when MMcM was still updating it. I’ll let you follow its winding path and enjoy the weighing of the various etymological suggestions; I’ll just quote this bit near the end:
But what Sokoloff provides, which none of the books I’ve quoted until now did – is the sources for the etymologies! That’s so important, and yet until I acquired his book, I had no idea how much it was missing. I’m sure Klein, Steinsaltz and the others did research and had reasons for their theories. But without documentation, it all just seems like speculation.
Congratulations to Balashon and its dedicated creator, David Curwin, to whom I wish many more years of life, happiness, and blogging.