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Does the word toad (קרפדה) appear in Tanach?

  • Toad is קרפדה (karpada) in Hebrew.
  • Toad is crapaud in French.

The two words have the same 4 consonants in the same order, which does not seem to be by mere accident. Looks like one language has borrowed the word from another. The question is which? If the word toad appears in Tanach in its current Hebrew form, then it is clear that French copied it from Hebrew. Otherwise, it is a French word transcripted into Hebrew, much like the English word brush made it into מברשת (mivrashet) in Hebrew.

Thanks.

4

As has already been pointed out, קרפד is not a native Biblical Hebrew word, nor does it have any mentions in this corpus of Hebrew from many periods. However, it seems not to have been borrowed from French, though I would guess it was influenced by it.

  • The Talmud mentions קורפדאי (possibly from Persian for "porcupine"; I wasn't able to locate this in Persian lexicography), describing it as a "שרץ" which makes it likely a mole (Rashi "טלפא")

  • French crapaud comes from Frankish krappa, from which also grappe "hook." Apparently, the source of "crapaud" is not from the same source as the word קורפדאי in the Talmud

In 1959 Ben Yehuda still translated the word as mole (adding in a footnote that it may be from Hebrew קיפוד, which could be the only tie to Hebrew; compare the word שאנן which gained a ל in the phrase שלאנן ושלו).

Ben Yehuda p. 6208

Here's where I think the conflation happened. The Even Shoshan dictionary (published in 1964, no link since I can't find it on the internet) has the word קרפדה and defines it as a toad (and has no entry for קרפדאי or any other similar word). Interestingly, it doesn't mark it as a foreign word. I assume the dictionary (or whatever source the dictionary might have used) assumed that קרפדה was a native word because of the word קרפדאי ("mole"), but defined it as a toad because of the French word.

In short: קרפדה is not from the French "crapaud," but from the Aramaic (or Persian?) קרפדאי, possibly related to Hebrew קיפוד, meaning "mole" (or "porcupine"). The meaning "toad" was probably assumed as the meaning of the word, based on French "crapaud," sometime between 1959-1964. However, it's not a borrowing, but a conflation of meaning with an existing word.

  • Wow, this is an interesting piece of linguistic forensics :-). – mark Aug 10 '17 at 12:39
  • Even Shoshan further elaborates:מארמית: קַרְפְּדַאי, קוּרְפְּדַאי, חולין סג., וכן בדמיון" צלצול לשם הצרפתי: crapaud", i.e. "from Aramaic קרפדאי, influenced by phonetic resemblance to the French crapaud." – har-wradim Oct 15 '17 at 14:29
  • @har-wradim In the edition I was using (1964) it makes no mention of the French. – b a Oct 23 '17 at 11:43
  • @ba Interesting - that's what I suspected. The edition I have is from 1979. – har-wradim Oct 30 '17 at 20:19
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קרפדה does not appear in the Tanakh.

On the 55th page of the Qof section in this hebrew etymology book has a listing for קרפדה, but does not give it's etymology. According to an French etymology dictionary, craupaud was first attested in French in the 12th century.

  • @mark - Or maybe they're mutually exclusive from each other, and happen to sound alike. – ezra Jul 18 '17 at 1:27
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Not only is קרפדה not in tanach; neither is קרפד, nor קרפ for that matter (Oh carp!).

This sort of question is very easily discovered using http://toraware.com a great, flexible and intuitive site for Tanach or Torah searches.

  • Of course, it should be said, that that word (קרפדה) DOES INDEED appear in Torah, only not as a single word. E.g., it can appear as a "word" if you visualize your results from an "equidistant letter sequence" perspective. Then definitely it's there! E.g., if you start your "word" from the 2nd letter of the 1st word of possuk 21 in Iyov 41, and you iterate skips over 189 scriptural characters after each letter, you will find that you have spelled out קרפדה ! (In other words, every 190th letter, from the 1st.) – ruffy Jul 18 '17 at 4:23

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