The Hebrew Language Origins of English: "when" (7 November 2015, 25 Cheshvan, 5776)
Some Recent Notes:
English is a composite language. Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and others speaking Germanic-type dialects conquered England from peoples of Celtic culture.
Then came the Vikings from Scandinavia who settled in the north. After that the Normans, who were also of Scandinavian origin but spoke French, imposed their own language.
Over the centuries numerous foreign words were adopted and new ones invented. Scholars who had learnt Latin and Greek applied their erudition to the mix.
The English Language evolved. It has more than one source. It is still developing.
Nevertheless there is a strong Hebrew element in English.
A lot of words, and other characteristics of the English Language show a parallelism to Hebrew.
Some of the Hebraisms in question may be traced to Anglo-Saxon German, some to French, some to Latin, some to elsewhere.
The overall result is to make English more Hebrew than the sources themselves are even though the Hebrew features are said to come from them!
Do languages have "souls"? Does English have a Hebrew "spirit" beating somewhere within?
In this case we may let others provide the explanations.
We can describe the phenomenon, in part.
Grammar: Parts of Speech
ARTICLES: a, an, and the.
A NOUN's the name of anything,
as: school or garden, toy, or swing.
PRONOUNS: Represent nouns usually as the subject or object of verbs.
as: He, she, I, me, they, them, we,
ADJECTIVES tell the kind of noun,
as: great, small, pretty, white, or brown.
VERBS tell of something being done:
To read, write, count, sing, jump, or run.
ADVERBS describe and qualify verbs
e.g. slowly, quickly, badly, well.
CONJUNCTIONS join the words together,
as: men and women, wind or weather.
The PREPOSITION stands before a noun as:
in or through a door.
In Hebrew, as in English, the above component parts are to be found.
Nearly ALL Hebrew articles, pronouns, conjunctions, and prepositions have direct derivatives in English.
From the English side there is a wider variety but a good portion of the above listed word types are derived from Hebrew.
Let us take some examples:
The English word "WHEN"
Online Etymological Dictionary
Old English hwenne, hwenne, hwonne, from Proto-Germanic *hwan- (cognates: Old Saxon hwan, Old Frisian hwenne, Middle Dutch wan, Old High German hwanne, German wann "when," wenn "if, whenever"), from pronominal stem *hwa-, from PIE interrogative base *kwo- (see who). Equivalent to Latin quom, cum. As a conjunction in late Old English. Say when "tell me when to stop pouring you this drink" is from 1889.
whenas (adv., conj.)
early 15c., from when + as.
Whenas in silks my Julia goes
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.
[Robert Herrick (1591-1674)]
at what time.
"when did you last see him?"
at or on which (referring to a time or circumstance).
"Saturday is the day when I get my hair done"
at or during the time that.
"I loved math when I was in school"
after which; and just then (implying suddenness).
"he had just drifted off to sleep when the phone rang"
The expression "Va-Heni" occurs more than 350 times in Hebrew Scriptures.
It means approximately "And behold".
"Va" means "and" or "as" or 'then" while "heni" means "behold", or "here is", or "there were".
More precisely "Va-Heni" means "when" just like the English word.
"Va-Heni" begins with the letter "vav".
This in Biblical times would probably have been pronounced as a "w" just like it still is amongst Yemenite Jews.
We therefore have "Wa-Heni" meaning "when".
The "i" at the end takes a vowel sound and could easily have been dropped.
We thus get "Wa-hen" i.e. "when"!-
We will notice that the English "when" is loser to the Hebrew "wa-hen" than the proposed Germanic source given above. This happens all the time.