Metathesis — Permuting Letters
Here’s another nice one: גזרה, root גזר, referring to a decree or edict, usually negative. "And then" התרגז, root רגז, get angry. First the evil decree, then get angry. Makes sense. Cycling the last letter to the front of a root is just one form of metathesis. There are many others. הזדקן, "he got old," is a euphonic metathesis plus a substitution, from the formal reflexive הת+זקן, which is unpronounceable, but most certainly is a formation of the second-person pronoun אתה "you" plus the verb זקן "old." First, the metathesis of ת with ז -> הזתקן , then the softening of ת to ד to give הזדקן.
There are six permutations of every root. Maybe I’ll do a nice search for all of those. Complicating my procedure (greatly) is the fact that Hebrew letters are overloaded with respect to etymological origins. ח stands for two letters (written separately in Arabic as حhha and خ kha), ז for two (ز za and ظ zdha in Arabic), ש for two (Hebrew retaining dots often even in unvoweled text), ג for two (Arabic keeping only one, the ج jim), ד and ת each has historical soft forms retained in Arabic, בכפ each have modern soft forms, ע has two (ع and غ still in Arabic), and the ever-loving צ stands for three ancient letters (ص, ض, and another one), plus samekh ס seems out of place, perhaps retained in Greek as Ξ. This means that a permutation might be related to a considerable number of other roots, some of which are spelled exactly the same. What a mess, eh? Despite their being just 22 Hebrew letters, there are about 34 different potentially meaningful sounds to account for. Some of them, like ב and בּ are probably just euphonic differences and don’t harbor etymological distinctions. Others like ד and דּ are usually completely different letters.
|#||Hebrew Letter||Arabic Cognate||Candidate Transliteration|
|21||ס||s (ks of old?)|