Monday, September 26, 2016


MESHUGA   (Yinglish)  MiSHOOGaH   Mem-Shin-Vav-Gimel-Hey
Mih-SHOOG-a                                  משוגה                      SH-G]
ROOTS:   Yiddish words sometimes used in English (Yinglish) are normally left to Leo Rosten’s dictionaries.  This entry is no  MESHUGAAS (neurotic craziness) of a MESHUGANER or michiginer (a crazy person, not to be mistaken for a person from Michigan). (Random House Dictionary, 2010) calls MESHUGA or MISHUGGA (senseless) a slang word that entered English from Yiddish meshuge  in 1880.

  משוגה MiSHOOGaH,  an  error, is in Job 19:4. It is not about a purposeful deviation, but like roving errantly.  As usual, we can ignore the venerable MISHIGAAS or common error about a trilateral Hebrew root (a useful invention for grammar).  The root is actually just  ש-ג    Shin-Gimel. שגא   SHaGAh is to wander about, and   שגא  SHaGAy is a wanderer in
I Chronicles 11:34. שגה  SHaGaH is to go astray, Syriac-Aramaic SHiGAh, means “he erred or wentastray.    שגיה SHiGeeYaH or  שגיאה SHiGeeYAH is an error in Psalms 19:13 (where it is only in the plural). 

The ש-ג   Shin-Gimel root appears earliest when discussing the sacrifices needed for inadvertent sins.שגג   SHaGahG, to err, is in Leviticus 5:18, while the adj. in Leviticus  4:2. is  שגגה SHGaGaH (unwittingly). שוגג   SHOAGaiG is the adv.
Leading up to MISHUGAAS, שגיון   SHeeGaYOAN is a fixation; שגעון  SHeeGa[O]WN is mania;   שגשSHaGahSH is to confound.

BRANCHES:   German slang has borrowed meschugge from the  Yiddish. Those who think the Yiddish got to the Far East are mishuga. The strongest forms of SH-G errors were Asian ones, and this entry was needed for them. Japanese 間違い  machigai is an error.   In Cantonese an accident or mistake is shi gu 事故. Saga or sago 사고    is an accident in  Korean.

Swahili “mistake” is (ma) kosa.  The guttural and fricative have changed places, not by mistake.
If a wandering, errant fricative-guttural or guttural-fricative root did enter Indo-European vocab, it might be in words like GAS and CHAOS. GAS was named in the 16th Century for Greek khaos, formless, disordered space. Unlike water or AQUA which always finds its level or קו  QahV, GASEOUS materials are chaotic, wandering MISHUGANERS.

Friday, September 9, 2016


SIFT         SHaFahDT          Shin-Phey-Tet
Shah-FAHT       שפט    [SH-F-DT à SFT]
ROOTS: SIFTING is associated so much with food preparation that we can forget  that SIFT means distinguishing the truth by careful examination.  “To make a careful examination” is the 3rd definition of the AHD -- no sieve or flour needed.  “Sift the evidence” (AHD) is the job of a judge, not a chef.

There is no “Indo-European root” for SIFT. Middle English siften can only be traced back to Old English siftan.

The portion of Shoftim (Judges, also the name of a Biblical book) begins  in Deuteronony  16:18  with the command to “appoint  judges(KJV and older JPS),  שפטים  SHoaFDTeeYM , who will שפטו   SHahFDTOO, “judge” (plural verb), a “righteous judgement ,”
משפט-צדק  MiSHPahDT-TSeDeQ.

 TSeDeQ (righteous or just) may be parsed as  צד TSahD  (side -- see “SIDE”) + דק DahQ (fine, minute, thin -- see “ACUTE”). And so the SIFTER of evidence, or judge,  does have to SIFT as with a sieve through the two opposing sides of a legal case.

BRANCHES: SLAVIC sifters < שפט,  SHaPHahDT, to judge  
iSPiTa (investigate) -- Macedonian
iSPiTati (examine, sift, test, search, assay, investigate)
    -- Bosnian,   Croatian
iZViDJETi (investigate) -- Bosnian
PyTaCCa (inquire) -- Belarusian  M231
raSPiTati se (inquire) -- Bosnian, Croatian
VyŠeTriť , VyŠeTrovať (investigate, screen, find out, study, inquire)
      -- Slovak M213
VyŠeTrovat  (investigate, try, sound, inquire)
      -- Czech M213
ZaPiTvam (inquire) -- Bulgarian
ZBaDać (investigate, examine) -- Polish
ZePTat se (inquire) -- Czech

Other possible vestiges of שפט,  SHaPHahDT:
apšaubīt (question) -- Latvian M213
Ichoputa (investigate, verify) -- Igbo
Pētīt (investigate, delve) -- Latvian fricative drops
PyeS (interrogate) -- Albanian ß dental drops