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Jun 24, 2010

how do you say "kind" and "type" in Hebrew?

מין, סוג

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This entry is delivered at the request of all-star Ulpan La-Inyan faithful, Ruti.

So there are (at least) two words for "type" or "kind" in Hebrew: מִין (meen) and סוּג (soog). What's the difference? When should one use which?

First of all, they're very close synonyms. The English equivalents to these words are also a pair of synonyms: type and kind. The first comes from a Greek/Latin root (via the Norman/French invasion to Britain in 1066), and the second is a genuine Germanic root.

The difference between the two now-English words? It's subtle, at best.

מין appears in Biblical Hebrew - this I know from the first chapter of Genesis. In that context, the word refers to a species.



I looked up סוג and confirmed my suspicion: the word doesn't appear in Biblical Hebrew at all! (if someone has seen it in the Bible, please challenge me) It probably comes from a different language - possibly Aramaic.

The two Hebrew words - מין and סוג - have very similar meanings. A distinction I can draw is that מין tends to refer to what we'd call in English a sort of something, whereas סוג is more descriptive.

For example, you might speak about three different types of shoes - שְׁלֹשָׁה סוּגֵי נַעֲלָיִים (shloh-SHAH soo-GHEI nah-ah-LAH-yeem). You wouldn't say three different sorts of shoes.

But you would say אֵיזֶה מִין אוֹכֶל זֶה? (EI-zeh meen OH-khel zeh) - what kind/sort of food is this? if what you mean is "I don't really like this food," or perhaps, "I like it a lot, and I'm curious as to what country it came from."

מין also has the meaning of gender or sex, whereas סוג doesn't have anything to do with those.

I hope this helped to clarify.
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