Sunday, February 14, 2016

karas and crash

My wife asked me if there is any connection between the English word "crash" and the Hebrew verb קרס - which means to "collapse", and can be used to refer to a computer when it crashes.

The two words do not have a common origin. "Crash" has the following etymology:

late 14c., crasschen "break in pieces;" probably imitative. Meaning "break into a party, etc." is 1922. Slang meaning "to sleep" dates from 1943; especially from 1965. Computing sense is from 1973.

I think it's likely that the similar sound of the English word "crash" had some influence when Israelis were looking for a Hebrew verb to describe a computer or program that stopped working.

Today karas means "to collapse, to fall", but the original meaning was "to bend down, stoop." It referred to stooping very low, and was used in parallel with כרע - "to bow down". The only two places it is found in the Tanach is in Yeshaya 46:1-2, where it says כָּרַע בֵּל, קֹרֵס נְבוֹ - "Bel bowed down, Nevo stooped (karas)" and קָרְסוּ כָרְעוּ יַחְדָּו - "they stooped and bowed down together."

We do find a couple of other words used today that derive from the same root, meaning "bend". The word keres קרס means "hook", and is found in the description of the tabernacle in Shemot 26:6. I don't think it's used as frequently as the synonym vav וו, but we do see it in the Hebrew word for swastika - tzlav keres צלב קרס  - "hooked cross".

Klein also connects the word for ankle, karsol קרסול . This is also a biblical word, found in Shmuel II 22:37 and Tehilim 18:37.

If "ankle" seems familiar, it's because we've discussed it before here. Take a look!

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