In the standard Ashkenazi Siddur, why is the Aramaic word פורקן used in the otherwise entirely Hebrew prayer of על הנסים?

  • Just to include what research you have done: what nuschaot have you looked at that contain this word and contain little/no other aramaic? – Double AA Nov 24 '13 at 2:50
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    are you sure that it is solely an Aramaic word? balashon.com/2006/05/traffic.html I know it appears so in ykum purkan but could it be both? Milon Morfix translates it as if it was Hebrew morfix.co.il/%D7%A4%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%A7%D7%9F – rosends Nov 24 '13 at 2:58
  • @DoubleAA, I stole the question - and I know the answer (awkward)... – Seth J Nov 24 '13 at 3:14
  • @Danno, you've got part of the answer already. ;-) – Seth J Nov 24 '13 at 3:15
  • @SethJ That shouldn't prevent you from writing a good question! – Double AA Nov 24 '13 at 4:34

See the Aruch on the entry for פרק, which cites תהילים קלו:כד :

וי*פרק*נו מצרינו

"And hath delivered us from our adversaries"

Thus, the word is not Aramaic.

  • Perhaps also Eicha 5:8 – Double AA Nov 24 '13 at 5:25
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    a root can be shared between Hebrew and Aramaic -- is the form with a final nun as a singular noun a Hebrew construction? If so, this begs why y'kum purkan, an Aramaic text, uses Hebrew. – rosends Nov 24 '13 at 13:33
  • Good catch, AA. Danno- it doesn't seem to be a (typical) Hebrew construct. Indeed, in the example cited by AA, פֹּרֵק seems to be the natural form of the noun, though the translation is non-literal. The final nun may be used to construct a noun defined as the person who has that quality. E.g. פחד=fear, פחדן=coward. However, I don't think that fits here, nor would it explain the extra vowel. But I'll leave it to the grammarians here to explain, if possible. In any case, my point was that it's not an exclusively Aramaic word. – Ephraim Nov 24 '13 at 13:53

This question is a complicated one because Hebrew and Aramaic are sister languages with many shared words and cognates. Even if פורקן was an entirely Aramaic word (which is not at first glance easy to determine based on form or attestation), that does not mean it cannot become a Hebrew word over time. For instance, the word אלא is an Aramaic word (a contraction of אן לא, "if not") that became such a common word in rabbinic texts that we just treat it as a Hebrew word. All languages borrow words (e.g. in English: gesundheit from German, chandelier from French, etc.). Rabbinic Hebrew is full of Aramaisms and straight-up borrowings.

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