Names, Was: Hexwood's Goon

Elizabeth Parks mep3 at st-andrews.ac.uk
Mon Mar 11 07:10:28 EST 2002


sally asked:My sister is an Anne Elizabeth, and I was quite startled (in
my early teens)
to find that "Ann" and "Anne" are actually the English and French forms
(respectively) of Latin "Anna". I thought "Hannah" was Hebrew - how does
that relate to "Chana"?.

Hannah is an alternate spelling--I think it might be Yiddish.  The
original I seem to remember is something like Chaanach, in the same way
that you'll occasionally see spellings like Avichayil for Abigail (it's
sort of annoying when Biblical scholars use these names in their work--you
have to sit there and figure out who the heck they're talking about).
Hannah comes from it quite easily--the Ch sound is sometimes written as
H--and it's not pronounced exactly like either.  I've got a friend called
Chaya, and it's not exactly Kai-ya and not exactly Hai-ya--it's (at least
the way her family says it) sort of an h with a k influence at the
beginning--like an almost silent k sound.  It all varies a lot because
when you get down to it Hebrew is _not_ written in the Romanized alphabet,
and simply has different sounds.  It's really amazing how much difference
that can make (thinking of the fact that many Asian languages do not have
the letter l or the letter r as we know it, but a sound that's somewhere
between the two--if I try to write my name in Japanese it comes out
something like Rijii Paroksu).

A lot of the names we think of as Hebrew are simply ones that are
associated with either a)the Old Testament or b)Jewish communities, and
are Hebrew in a distant way.  Complications also arise because Biblical
names, at least, come to most languages secondhand (at least).  A lot of
names categorized as "Hebrew" are, strictly speaking, Aramaic, and most of
these went through the same process as the Bible--translated into Greek
and then used in Latin for hundreds of years before the German/English/etc
translations were undertaken.  And then of course we have the whole not
knowing what people (especially women) were named, and names being allowed
or not allowed (you have to get government approval in France!) and the
socoilogical aspects of religious names and conformity and so on and so
forth.  In any case just the sound _an_ is fairly common and can be found
in most cultures in one form or another (wildly overgenrealizing but I
can't seem to get this email to end!)

ending NOW

Lizzie Parks (in English)

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