Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mouse in Hebrew

HAARETZ: Word of the Day / Akhbar from the bible to the digital age. The word for mouse goes back millennia, completely unchanged, but its antecedents may be an artifact of some ancient's sense of humor. (Elon Gilad).
At any rate, much like mice in the pantry, this word for the humble rodent has lasted through the ages, from Biblical times to the time of the Mishnah, through Talmudic times in Aramaic and then to rabbinic writings in Hebrew of the Middle Ages. Nor has it changed with the revival of Hebrew as a living language in the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

That said, akhbar underwent an important semantic twist in the late 20th century, when in 1963, Bill English built a prototype of a device designed by Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute. The little palm-sized box with a cord protruding from its front resembled a mouse and thus it was so named.