Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 29 18:23:47 UTC 2008

I'm sorry, Benjamin. I should have read your post more closely. I
basically skipped over what I was already familiar with, B-R-K,
whereas what was new, B-R-Q, commanded all of my attention, not to
mention that I had the Barcas, Hamilcar and Hannibal, on my mind. And
I also was feeling that "Lightning" was a cooler, goner, and more
kick-ass name, under the circumstances, than the very banal "Blessed."
OTOH, under the very same circumstances, Obama is hardly in a position
to be seen as threatening in any way, even metaphorically. Not even
little old colored church ladies would go for that.


On Fri, Aug 29, 2008 at 8:01 AM, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "Barack"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Fri, Aug 29, 2008 at 2:13 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Did anyone else notice that Obama himself has said that his name means
>> "blessed" and not "lightning"? I don't know enough Semitic, uh,
>> Semetic, to know whether he's be right or whether his father made a
>> mistake.
> No mistake. As I wrote on Aug. 20, in response to your "Hi!" post...
> There are two different Semitic roots: "Barack" (as in Obama) and
> "baruch" derive from B-R-K 'bless', while "Barak" (as in Ehud) and
> "Barca" derive from B-R-Q 'lightning'. For more on this, see my two
> Language Log posts:
> http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/004187.html
> http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/004196.html
> --Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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