JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Names, Inexactitudes & Irrelevancies #general


Chaim Harutz writes:
<<1. A recent discussion occurred regarding the Hebrew word Gaon
(Gimel aleph vav nun-sofit). (SNIP)

==OK, I'm guilty here, I got involved in this one. We were discussing the
progression of the meaning of the word >from "Resh Metivte Ga'on Yaakov" to
"genius." We were all familiar with the current Israeli idimoatic use; our
essential question was "When did Ga'on acquire its modern Israeli meaning of
"genius." You have added something useful by mentioning it's been so used at
least 300 years. Can you give your sources? I assume Ben Yehuda had this
meaning; do you have access to BY and can you give us his sources?

<<2. There was a recent query regarding the origin of the name "Sima" -
referring to a woman originating in Eastern Europe. A number of postings came
in regarding this name, some of which were, at best, misleading or off the
point, and may even be, for all I know, grossly incorrect. (SNIP)

==I was the poster in question. I made it very clear that this was a
Sephardic dimunitive. You may be surprised to know that there are at least
one, possibly even two or more <g> readers of this list who have Sephardi
ancestors. You may be even more surprised that there were Sephardim in East
Europe (Bulgaria, of course, Serbia, Greece, Hungary, even Russia), and that
there was a cultural flow of Sephardic culture >from the Holy Land.

==I really fail to see how anyone asking whether Sima meant Sister in Yiddish
or was an alternative for Pearl, could be grievously misled by being told that
Sima was a common diminuitive among Sephardim for the feminine Simcha.

==Your comments
<<Despite my promise in the past to Dave Snyder not to get involved in this
type of argument, I've finally given in to anger and frustration regarding
some half-baked and pseudo-educated responses to queries about names, some of
which have been justifiably commented on by moderators. . . . What worries me
is those apparently "clever" people who post replies to the digest, which
appear to be detailed and erudite, but are frequently in error or misleading,
and sometimes even off the point.>>
are, to put it mildly offensive and misleading. I can really see no
justification for breaking your promise to Dave Snyder and
even less for your anger and frustration by your labeling of our discussion as
<< half-baked and pseudo-educated>>.

==Can we get back again to some civilized discussion and intercourse EVEN when
the proffered suggestions and help may deviate occasionally >from scientific
accuracy. They can be more helpful than acrimonious attacks. Incidentally, I
did not see your righteous anger when a number of posters reassured a gentile,
(inquiring if his ancestor might have been Jewish because HIS granpa had
called him Bubbele): "Of course he's Jewish, that's a Yiddish word and it
means grandmother." Now that is a response that deserved rebuttal for a
number of reasons including that the word is pan-Germanic for a little baby,
that grandmother and little baby are not synonymous in Yiddish or any other
language, and that nothing about Jewish ancestry can be inferred >from the fact
that someone calls someone else by a name that sounds like Yiddish (shall I
assume that all those Southern macho types known as Bubba have veins that flow
with Jewish blood?)

Michael Bernet, New York

MODERATOR NOTE: Although we had asked that all answers be private, this
exception has been made as it clarifies some of the points the original
poster had raised. Thread now closed.

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