Hebrew works differently than English and the only language very similar to it is — unsurprisingly — Arabic.

Hebrew uses root words and then twists them into various shapes to form adjectives, nouns, verbs, and other word forms that all, in some way take their original meaning from that root.

The word in Hebrew for “compass” means — as it does in English — a device that points you in a direction. But it also means the direction “North” and by mental rhyming, it also means “conscience.”

Because a compass points you north as your consciences points you in the “right direction.”

A logical language.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

14 thoughts on “THE COMPASS”

    1. I loved the language though I never got very good at speaking it. It is so different from English, I got lost in its conceptual nature and lack of grammar. Hebrew is more about “ideas” and less about “words.” It was hard for me to speak in it, but I understood it better than I could say it.


    1. It’s a very logical jump. In Hebrew, if you know the root of two words and they are the same root, you can figure out the connection. I’m betting the same is true in Arabic since the two languages are so similar.


  1. This is slightly off the mark for this discussion but I think it may have some merit, so here goes “big mouth” again. I’ve always been able to travel with nothing more than a quick look at a map.., and sometimes just by a hunch. A good sense of direction can help a lot. Most roads don’t follow a simple direction of N, S, E and W, but vary to anything in between. I have had a hard time explaining to visitors to Arizona, Phoenix in particular, that I-10E travels south for 100 -150miles before it turns east again to traverse the rest of the country.

    A compass is merely a reference while our modern dependence on GPS devices have caused many to forget where they are and rely on these things to get you out of your being basically lost. To get back on track, maybe Arabic and Hebrew both account for the human element in direction finding and counted on the intelligence of men to use this tool to just reinforce our basic sense of where we are in relation to where we wish to go. As I understand it there were few if any road signs, or roads for that matter, when these devices were invented. So, I ask, how many of us can navigate by the stars these days? I can’t and I was in the Navy. Ok, so if you limit your travel to daytime, the Sun is still a decent reference.


    1. Long ago, I used to find my way from Manhattan to Long Island using the sun. I can go by dead reckoning if there’s a sun in the sky. What I can’t do is figure out the road system on a grey morning in Massachusetts.


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