E 0021          ALAN

The Old English word "alan" is of Germanic origin .

H 0125            ה ל ע;  ה ל ע ה

Concept : raise, grow

Hebrew word


English meanings

ה ל ע  ;

ה ל ע ה



to raise, grow (intr., tr.)

to raise, grow (tr.)

Related English words

Old English  alan

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ה ל ע


 ה ל ע ה 




to raise, to grow ( intr., tr) ;

to raise, grow (tr)

‛a l




to raise, nourish, reinforce

a l




to raise, nurture

a l

Old English



to grow, nourish

a l



Proto-Semitic *‛ALA --- *AL- Indo-European



The fundamental fact in the old root "AL", found in Latin as well as in Hebrew, is that it unites the ideas of "to rise" and "to raise". Hebrew uses for the intransitive form "I grow" the basic verb "‛ alà". In connection with this there is the word "‛ alé" for foliage, which we see in a separate entry.


The use of this verb for "grow" or "regrow" or also "nursing" is not frequent and in modern language it seems indeed out of use.


For "to raise", the causative form "hé‛élà" is preferred. But there is also the verb " ע ל ל, ‛alal " that gives us the developing (growing) of fruits and also of children. This kind of shaping new roots for verbs is very much used. A root consisting of two consonants is extended to one of three just by doubling the second one.


One should consider that in this entry the verb " ע ל ה" does not have a three-consonant-root. The letter " ה " after the other two, consonants, indicates that a vowel "A" is to be pronounced. In other instances this may well be a different vowel. Our opinion perhaps is unorthodox, but it is also the similarity with Latin in this case, that confirms this.


  • Hebrew. The "Y" as a third consonant can be seen in a number of verbal forms. It has been introduced as an extension of the original two-consonant root "‛A L" as a way to shape a verb. This is confirmed by the existence of the noun " 'al " for "height" and the preposition " 'al " for "on".


  • Proto-Semitic is sometimes seen with a third consonant "Y" developed out of an earlier "W". This is based on the existence of a vowel "U" in Akkadian . In fact frequently we see in Semitic how an original "WAW" (pronounced W, O, U or F) develops into a "Y" ( pronounced as Y or I). In this case it is probable that this change has occurred already during the period of Proto-Semitic.


    Others suppose a doubled root "*Ayin L Ayin L" or even "*L Ayin L". These are possible ways in which an original root may develop.


    Anyhow an original root " *ע ל ה" * Ayin . L .+accentuated vowel", is the one that must have been Proto-Semitic.


  • Greek. The third letter "D", is not part of the original root, but a third accentuating letter. This language has still another word with the same root and related meaning : "αναλτος , analtos" for "insatiable".And an interesting "αλδησκω , aldèsko", that means both "to grow" and "to make grow". The infix "SK" is liked in Greek and expresses initiative and aktion.


  • Old English is strikingly near the three classics, Greek, Latin and Hebrew. It shares this with Gothic that has the same word "alan". Perhaps they were used only in the intransitive sense of "I grow up , feed myself".


  • Proto-Germanic. The Old English verb "alan" of this entry has also forms with "O". It has sister words in Gothic "alan", Old Norse "ala", and Old Icelandic "ala". We are uncertain if Middle Low German "elden = to bring up" is directly related. Anyhow for the meaning of this entry a Proto-Germanic "*A L A" is a very probable root.


    It must be mentioned that in the general opinion the English word "old" , German "alt" and Dutch "oud" have developed out of this same root and would originally have meant "grown-up". We rather doubt this. It would anyhow have meant that in Proto-Germanic a new, extended root "*A(leph) L T/D= old" was shaped on the basis of a still older "*A L= to make grow". There would be a semantic jump here and it should be taken into consideration that being ( just) grown up is very far from having grown "old".


  • Indo-European. Old Irish offers a word "alim= (to) feed", and also "altram = nutrition" as well as "altru = foster-father". This indicates a Celtic root "*A L-".


    Old Indian offers a word "árdhuka" for "prospering" and a group of four variations for "to grow, prosper " : "rdhnoti, rdhati, rdhyati", that does not offer easy conclusions about original roots. If they are related with the words of this entry, they are very very far cousins anyway.


    Avestan "arĕdat- = he makes prosper" and "ĕrĕdāt = making to prosper" have in comparison with Greek, "A R D-" instead of "A L D", and may be more directly related, though this remains a bit uncertain.


    . On the basis of Greek, Latin, Germanic, Celtic and perhaps Avestan, for Indo-European a hypothesis of an original "*A L -", as well as two on this basis developed extended forms "*A L A-" and "*A L D-" seems justifiable.




Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 22/12/2012 at 14.20.49