Thursday, April 27, 2006

I am mystified that they are mystified about Suri

By now its well known that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes named their baby Suri. Their comment, that it means "red rose" in Persian and "princess" in Hebrew got a lot of press, especially from linguists who scoff at the claim that suri means princess. That would be sarah. Hebrew experts explained that suri would mean "a person from Syria" or "go away" in Hebrew. Language Log has a post about it, with links to more discussion in the language blogvelt. LL quotes an interesting theory by Roger Friedman of FOX News:
To get the name Suri, you actually have to subscribe to Kabbalah, a very distant offshoot of Judaism. Suri would really be Sarah, except Kabbalah — as it is now taught to celebrities — is all about taking letters and making new words out of them. ... Suri is derived from Sarah mathematically.
Many, if not most readers of this blog know that the whole discussion is hogwash. We know full well exactly what the name Suri is--it is a Yiddish version of Sarah, with diminutive attached. We probably all know Suris. LL does note that a Reuters article says
The article does note that Suri as a nickname for Sarah, though "all but unknown in Israel," is still attested. For instance, there's Jerusalem journalist Surie Ackerman, whose given name is "a formalized version of a nickname given by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews in her native United States."
But LL doesn't seem to give a lot of prominence to this point.

But that is the point. God only knows how the Cruise-Holmes people came across the particular form Suri, and came to understand it to be Hebrew (Hebrische, Judische, its all the same). But of course Suri is Sarah! Take a chassidishe accent which turns a komatz into a shuruk and Sarah (or Sorah) becomes Surah. Add a cutesy "i" to the end (Shmuely, Johnny) and presto, you've got Suri, Hebrew Jewish for "princess."

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails