By the concept of the evolution of color words, black and white come first. Thing is, shakhor doesn't appear in the bible.

You are watching: How to say black in hebrew


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In your groundbreaking book straightforward Color Terms: their Universality and Evolution (1969), Brent Berlin and Paul Kay, argue that the indigenous for color in different languages have actually a fairly fixed evolution path.


The people of color begins with the 2 basics at the most primitive finish of the scale, corresponding approximately to “black” (including every the “cold” colors) and “white” (including all the “warm” colors).


Based on their data from nearly 100 languages, Berlin and Kay discovered a relatively fixed 7-stage progression to 11 an easy colors.


Over the next few weeks we will view whether their theory is borne out in the case of Hebrew. What's certain is that from the get-go, regarding Hebrew's indigenous for black - among the two simple colors – a snag arises.


While the modern Hebrew word for black, sha-KHOR, does appear in the Bible, that only shows up in the post-exilic texts, thus it shows up to have been picked up during the Jews' exile in Babylon some 2,500 come 3,000 years ago.


The thing is, the scriptures did have actually words for red and also green, which according to Kay and also Berlin should have come later.


It appears Biblical Hebrew did have actually a word because that “black,” however it no shakhor. It was - supposedly - kadar, though this interpretation of the old word has actually been discussed by the differentiated linguist Naftali Herz Tur-Sinai. He doubt the source k-d-r meant “bow down”.


In any type of case, in modern Hebrew, k-d-r describes the darkening that the weather and by metaphor, of one’s mood.


If we accept Tur-Sinai’s interpretation, we are undoubtedly left with a problem, together Berlin and also Kay's theory would suppose Biblical Hebrew to have actually a word because that black, together the bible abounds through things defined as red (as us shall see).


One possibility is the Hebrew did have actually a word for black (possibly shakhor itself, though that is unlikely, based on related languages) yet by possibility it doesn’t appear in the minimal corpus that Hebrew we find in the Bible.


Another possibility is that adom - the modern Hebrew word because that red - was the Biblical Hebrew word because that black. Words adom might have referred to a range from black color to red (though we would suppose the warm shade of red to loss under “white” together opposed to “black”).


As because that shakhor, the native itself comes from shakhar, a native that appears but once in the Bible, an interpretation "burnt."


During the Babylonian exile, words shakhar went with a transformation, turning from "burnt" to "blackened" by the moment of the Mishnah. Ultimately the native shakhor was created meaning "soot", and then "black squid made native soot."


On Thursday, we will comment on the other straightforward color in Berlin and Kay’s an initial stage - “white” or in Hebrew - lavan.

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Red cat on black feathers: could it be the somewhere along the line, the ancient words because that black and also red came to be confused?Credit: Dreamstime.com
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