לעז / "foreign talk" in Hebrew
 

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There is an interesting Hebrew word, rather root:

לעז

The derived words are:

לוֹעֲזי - foreign, of foreign-language

לוֹעֲזִית - foreign language

לוֹעֵז , or in fact a verb לָעַז - to speak foreign language (בצאת ישראל ממצרים, בית יעקב מעם לועז)

and so on (at least theoretically.)

The usual explanation says, the root לעז is abbreviation of לשון עם זר, i.e. "foreign people's language".

However, as one of my virtual friends (the guy is Assyrian and knows unbelievable number of languages, including Hebrew, Arabic, ancient Aramaic and Assyrian/Neo-Aramaic) had drawn my attention to the fact that לעז is quite close to לעס ("to chew", which also exists in Assyrian language), and also to Arabic word لغز (as we'd transliterate it in Hebrew: לע'ז), which means "to mistify, to talk riddles". All this points out that the word לעז is by no means abbreviation (that's rather folk ethymology), but a normal historical root also existing in other Semitic languages. Given the examples above, one might see the original meaning of לעז as "mumbling" or "speaking not clearly".



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