Friday, March 09, 2007


No, I'm not talking about this week's parasha - Ki Tisa. I'm actually looking into the word tisa טיסה meaning flight.

The Rabbinic Hebrew verb טוס - "to fly" is preceded by the Biblical root טוש , also meaning to fly, appearing in Iyov 9:26. According to Klein, the sense of "to fly in an airplane" was suggested by Haim Nahman Bialik.

And despite the strange hints by Jastrow to the contrary, there does not seem to be any connection between the root טוס and the Hebrew root for peacock - טווס tavas. Again, from Klein:

From Greek taos (whence Aramaic טוסא, Arabic tawus), which probably comes ultimately from Tamil tokei, togei (whence also Hebrew תכי , "peacock").

In modern Hebrew tuki תוכי means "parrot", but the Biblical tuki (Melachim I 10:22, Divrei HaYamim II 9:21) apparently meant a peacock.

The English word peacock also ultimately derives from the same source:

The word peacock actually derives from Old English péa “peacock”, and the –cock (or –hen) was added during the Middle English period in order to distinguish between males and females, as mentioned above. The Old English form comes from Latin pavo “peacock”. The peacock was a native of India, but it was domesticated and then taken to the West by traders. The Romans probably took it to Britain, where their name for the bird was adopted and changed by the Anglo-Saxons. The Latin word is thought to come from Greek taos “peacock”.


My mention of the word tisa was not purely academic (not that I'm particularly academic in any case.) This coming Sunday I'm flying to the US for work for a week. Last year I also traveled in March, but I had just started the site, and I only had a few books which I took with me. Now my library has grown quite a bit (see next paragraph) and I don't feel comfortable writing without all possible information. So expect new posts in about a week and a half.

In regards to my library, this past week it grew a lot. A reader gave me a tip about where to buy the Ben Yehuda dictionary - all 16 volumes, for a reasonable 500 shekels. I don't have any shelf space, but I couldn't pass it up. I hope that this great resource provides me with some good ideas for posts, and answers to your questions. In the meantime, I've started reading the first volume, which is an introduction to the project. The first section is autobiographical, which I find fascinating.

One thing I do hope to manage to do on my trip is to finally use that book / DVD that I bought a few months ago to learn to read Arabic. I'm a bit nervous, since unlike any other language I've learned before, all the letters in an Arabic word connect to one another, making it difficult for a new reader like me. If any of you have some additional tips on this, please let me know.

Finally, Purim is over, and Pesach is soon. I have a number of Pesach words up from last year, but if you have any suggestions for others, please let me know.


Update: If anyone can recommend any good used bookstores in the NYC area that either specialize in Judaica / Hebrew or have a good collection of books with those topics, please let me know. Thanks...

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