[421/441] The root of fame (Freewrite)

Given that yesterday was the Oscars ceremony, I figured that I might do a freewrite about the word “famous.”  I’ll start with one observation from outside of our usual language, and see where that takes us in fifteen minutes.  Naturally, I did NOT watch the Oscars, as going to the movies is something that I ordinarily do at most twice in a year (at Christmas, and perhaps one other time with a friend or group).

The word for “famous” in Hebrew is מפורסם (pronounced m’fur’sahm).  I thought about this for times when I would hear that word.  I had never heard it in services, but my experience in Modern Hebrew has exposed me to a LOT of words that do not appear in the סידור או תורה (Siddur or Torah).  Interestingly, there is another similarly sounding word, which has a surprisingly-linked word.

That word is פרסומת (peer-sohm-et), which means “advertisement.”  In my Modern Hebrew class, a few years ago we had to read several of them in Hebrew to extract information from given questions.  Advertisements look a lot different in Hebrew, but I don’t have a specific example to show you in this post.  It would probably be easy to Google that, but today I have to keep it to exactly 15 minutes… I have a lot of work to do today!

Funny that I mention 15 minutes when I write this post: a common thread that I have heard is a person’s “15 minutes of fame.”  Fifteen minutes are not really the root of fame as I have suggested in the post title, but you might notice instead that the last two paragraphs have Hebrew words which look pretty similar.  There are four letters in common between those two words:


I have looked ahead in my Hebrew text, and we are (hopefully) about to learn the פיעל (pi’el) form of verbs.  So far in the class, we have only dealt with “simple” verbs, but we are about to learn a different structure.  Unlike in the simple form, where all roots have 3 letters, this one allows 4-letter roots.

The word פרסם (peer-same) is the third-person, past-tense version of the verb “to advertise” in Hebrew.

The connection between these three words suggests something about fame: because famous things are well-known, they are often well-known through a significant amount of advertising.  This could be by traditional advertising (i.e. spots on the radio, TV, or newspaper), but I feel that for places rather than people, word of mouth tends to be the best propagator of fame and advertisement.

I also searched for the word “popular” in Hebrew, but it has a completely different root.  The cool thing about Hebrew is that it is a language centered around verbs and roots, so that similarly-sounding words are often similar in meaning.  There are definitely exceptions… one of my favorite examples: עוינו versus אבינו (we sinned vs. our father).  Both are pronounced “a’veenu.”

Sometimes, languages have different ways that don’t… TIME!!


Today is the four-hundred and twenty-first day of Mission 441. Twenty days remain.


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