JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Natalya is a Russian name #general


Judith Romney Wegner
 

I have heard that the name Natalie or Nathalie, is of Hebrew origin. I
have been told that, in its original form it appears as "Neta Li",
which means "My Seedling", or "I have a Seedling" in Hebrew. Could this
be true?
Macky Tutsingen
The midrashic imagination knows no bounds! Whoever thought up this
interpretation of Natalie (actually a Russian name, not Hebrew at all!)
was probably familiar with the midrashic folk-etymological technique of
splitting up a word into smaller words that quite often have nothing to do
with the original word. In Hebraic culture, this device was used in the
Bible, and later on we find it widespread in Talmud and Midrash. It is
especially prevalent in the interpretation of names, where the connection
to the alleged meaning may be genuine but is often spurious.

The example above calls to mind the attempt of the British Israel Society
back around 1900 to "prove" that the British are descended >from one of the
Lost Tribes of Israel -- by interpreting British as "Brit-Ish" (Hebrew
words meaning "the Covenant of a Man." One must guard against this kind
of thing, particularly when it involves spurious attempts to "translate"
from one language group to another, as in these examples.
Judith Romney Wegner
jrw@brown.edu

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