Research: Hebrew Could Be The Basis For Many English And European Words


English and European words such as alphabet, earth, loco and habitat could come from Hebrew, according to an independent Israeli linguistics researcher who has written a number of unpublished dictionaries, articles and books.

According to the English Oxford Dictionary, the word etymology refers to “the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history.”

Researchers can make inferences based on studying the roots of the words and their meanings, and try to piece together the history of words, though it’s far from an exact science.

Modern works on the subject are lacking, and one Israeli—Tony Daccre Barat, 73, born in Romania and now living in Akko, Israel—has studied linguistics on his own as a hobby for the past four decades.

He and his wife, who has a Ph.D. in architecture, live on a paltry stipend from the government of $1,200 a month. Tony knows Hebrew, Yiddish, Romanian, French, English and some in other languages.

In 1951, he immigrated to Israel with his family and served in the army, studied political science at Haifa University, and later studied linguistics for one year in Paris.

Barat noticed during his studies in Paris that nobody was making the links from European languages to Hebrew, and that there was no desire to do so. “Hebrew is a much older language as well, so it makes sense the roots of words go back before Latin or Greek,” he theorized.

In 1990, Barat returned to Romania and started a consulting company with his wife, assisting Israeli investors.

“Modern scholarship does not deal at all with the etymology of European or world languages from Hebrew,” said Barat. “It seems crazy at first, as Hebrew is written from right to left. But if you look more closely, similarities can be discovered.”

Scholarship exists on the connection between Hebrew and European languages, noted Barat, adding that he has around 1,500 books in his personal library that touch on the subject, often indirectly.

Examples of Hebrew as basis of European words

Barat has many theories regarding the Hebrew roots of certain European language words.

Take the word “earth” in English, which in Hebrew is eretz, or the word more associated with land, adama. In Arabic, it is ard, German erde, and in Romanian tara. The ending of these words can have differing pronunciations weather ending with a “se,” “te” or “de” sound. If you experiment with the different ending accent on these words, they sound quite similar.

Or, for example, the word “phrase” (which is the same in French), which Barat concludes comes from the Hebrew three-letter root paras or faras from the word לפרש, meaning to interpret. In Spanish, the word is frase, in Romanian fraza as well, and the same sound in Russia (фраза). The Online Etymology Dictionary says the word comes from the Greek frasi (φράση), but Barat infers it originates in Hebrew.

The word loco in Spanish means “crazy,” “distraught” or “deranged,” and according to dictionaries it comes from the Andalusian Arabic lawqa, signifying a foolish person. Barat theorizes that it comes from the Hebrew word laka (לקה), meaning to be defective, to become ill or to receive lashes.

In Aramaic (a Semitic language that replaced Hebrew for local Jews and which was displaced by Arabic in the seventh-century C.E.), laka means to be stricken with a disease. The Hebrew word likui means suffering from a deficiency.

Another is the word habitat, which Barat thinks comes from the Hebrew word for house, bayit (בית) or ha-bayit. The Online Etymology Dictionary puts it as originating in 1762 as a Latin term on English flora and fauna, literally “it inhabits.”

Also, “the word alphabet comes from Hebrew,” claims Barat, noting that it is credited to having a Greek origin. Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and bet is the second and the equivalent to the English “b.” The letter “d” in English is usually attributed to the Greek delta, “but I think it refers to the fourth Hebrew letter daled.”

Asked if there is any way to prove the origins of words beyond theorizing one way or the other, Barat responded: “It is not about proving it, just connecting words that are close. Nobody really knows definitively where many words originate.”

Academics remain skeptical, but …

Professor Gerald Leonard Cohen, an expert in etymology at the department of arts, languages and philosophy at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, told JNS that Barat’s arguments would receive sharp criticism from academics, who would point out the weaknesses in his suggestions.

For example, Barat claims that the word “alphabet” comes from Hebrew, but actually, “it derives from Phoenician. The Greeks had considerable contact with the Phoenicians, and the Phoenician language was very similar to Hebrew.”

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Phoenicians were merchant traders that by the second-millennium BCE “had colonies in the Levant, North Africa, Anatolia and Cyprus.”

“Their alphabet became the basis of the Greek alphabet,” it stated.

Cohen noted that “the Greeks borrowed the alphabet from the Phoenicians, making several changes along the way.” For instance, the Phoenician language did not have letters for vowels, and so Greek needed to develop them. And aleph bet (alphabet) wound up as alphabēt-os in Greek.

But on a positive note, continued Cohen, “amid all the fanciful suggestions, Barat may have wound up spotting a few items that really are worth pursuing, and perhaps other scholars will develop them into polished, scholarly articles.”




  1. “it derives from Phoenician” Just what is “Phoenician”? It is a word from the ancient Greek referring to sailors from sea ports such as Tyre. To quote Wikipedia “In terms of archaeology, language, lifestyle, and religion there was little to set the Phoenicians apart as markedly different from other residents of the Levant, such as their close relatives and neighbors, the Israelites” Further “The name “Phoenician” is by convention given to inscriptions beginning around 1050 BC, because Phoenician, Hebrew, and other Canaanite dialects were largely indistinguishable before that time.”

    In other words, we don’t really know (and most certainly the Greeks would not know) what the real difference is between a “Phoenician” and “Israelite”. For any practical purpose, there is no way to differentiate between an Israelite sailor and a “Phoenician”.

  2. What about the number 6? That’s shesh.
    In French its shes,
    In Russian its shast
    In English its six, which is the French spelling, so it probably came from French and was misread.
    In Spanish its sez
    In Yiddish (which probably comes from German) its zex
    In Arabic its sis

  3. א=a ב=b ג=c? ד=d ה=e ו=f? (may sound similar) ז=g? ח=h ט=i? י=j
    כ=k ל=l מ=m נ=n
    סע=o sound from ע look is from ס
    פ=p צ=?

    • Excellent observation!

      However, the (Lashon HaKodesh) letter “Tes” probably corresponds to the (English) letter “J” and the (Lashon HaKodesh) letter “Yud” probably corresponds to the (English) letter “I”

    • (Continuation of my remark)

      The name of the (Lashon HaKodesh) letter “Pey” is almost identical to the name of the (English) letter “P,” just the pronunciation is slightly different.

      While the (Lashon HaKodesh) letter “Kuf” is shaped like the (English) letter “P,” the small-case of the (English) letter “Q,” which is –> “q,” is, literally, both the upper-case and the small-case of the letter “P” & “p” turned backwards. In other words, the (Lashon HaKodesh) letter “Kuf” is shaped like the (English) small-case letter “q” turned backwards.

  4. The inherent flaw in the argument presented by the critics is thinking the Hebrew – source camp is theorizing these words come from a language known as Hebrew which, according to the point of view of the critics, is newer than Phoenician. However, the theorists – a poor, inaccurate term as it is truth not theory – link Lashon HaKodesh, not Hebrew, to all languages. Lashon Ha’kodesh is the language of creation. It is the language Adam used to describe the inner essence of each animal.

  5. Yes, see Moseson book. A few of my own: mouse from maus (disgusting). Maple from maafeel, to make dark. (Has large leaves, creating much shade.) Auto from oto, himself.

  6. The Word by the Language Chair at YU
    Safah Achas by Rabbi Gluestein
    Rabbi Miller mentions this is a number of places.
    Chumash is, arguably, clear about it as well.
    In The Word the author suggests a theory as to why Lashon HaKodesh is ignored. He says the most widely accepted theory on language development, that they developed along two parallel paths (Arian and African), is based on the strong unwillingness of Europeans to admit they come from the Fertile Crescent. V’hameivin yovin.

  7. See פרקי דרבי אליעזר פרק מח where he discusses the concept of אותיות הגאולה which are מנצפך. (All the letters that have different end forms, signifying redemption at the end of days.) can you seenin those letters the word “emancipation”??!


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