how to say “to vote” in Hebrew
Yesterday we encountered the Hebrew word for elections – בְּחִירוֹת .
But just as election and vote are two different words in English, בחירות has a counterpart as well.
The active-causative הִפְעִיל verb, לְהַצְבִּיעַ, is related to the word for finger, אֶצְבַּע , the root of both being צ.ב.ע (ts.b.a). להצביע also means to point at or to raise one’s hand. When we vote, we point at a particular candidate or party.
הַיּוֹם 90 מִילְיוֹן אָמֶרִיקָנִים מַצְבִּיעִים בַּבְּחִירוֹת הַכְּלָלִיוֹת.
Today 90 million Americans are voting in the general election(s).
Voting and colors
You may have noticed that the root of להצביע seems to be the same as that of the word for color, צֶבַע. But before you publish a theories on the relationship between the two concepts, here’s a Hebrew historical tidbit.
In ancient times, the letter ע (a) represented two distinct sounds: a guttural a and an also-guttural gh (very similar to the Modern Hebrew ר–r and the Modern French r). Arabic, Hebrew’s closest living relative language, retains the two sounds using two different letters to represent them: ع for the guttural a, and غ for the guttural gh.
While the root of אצבע (finger) and להצביע is צ.ב.ע where the ע represents the guttural a sound, the root of צבע (color) is צ.ב.ע where the ע represents the guttural gh sound.
Two distinct roots, two distinct concepts.
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