Friday, September 9, 2016


SIFT         SHaFahDT          Shin-Phey-Tet
Shah-FAHT       שפט    [SH-F-DT à SFT]
ROOTS: SIFTING is associated so much with food preparation that we can forget  that SIFT means distinguishing the truth by careful examination.  “To make a careful examination” is the 3rd definition of the AHD -- no sieve or flour needed.  “Sift the evidence” (AHD) is the job of a judge, not a chef.

There is no “Indo-European root” for SIFT. Middle English siften can only be traced back to Old English siftan.

The portion of Shoftim (Judges, also the name of a Biblical book) begins  in Deuteronony  16:18  with the command to “appoint  judges(KJV and older JPS),  שפטים  SHoaFDTeeYM , who will שפטו   SHahFDTOO, “judge” (plural verb), a “righteous judgement ,”
משפט-צדק  MiSHPahDT-TSeDeQ.

 TSeDeQ (righteous or just) may be parsed as  צד TSahD  (side -- see “SIDE”) + דק DahQ (fine, minute, thin -- see “ACUTE”). And so the SIFTER of evidence, or judge,  does have to SIFT as with a sieve through the two opposing sides of a legal case.

BRANCHES: SLAVIC sifters < שפט,  SHaPHahDT, to judge  
iSPiTa (investigate) -- Macedonian
iSPiTati (examine, sift, test, search, assay, investigate)
    -- Bosnian,   Croatian
iZViDJETi (investigate) -- Bosnian
PyTaCCa (inquire) -- Belarusian  M231
raSPiTati se (inquire) -- Bosnian, Croatian
VyŠeTriť , VyŠeTrovať (investigate, screen, find out, study, inquire)
      -- Slovak M213
VyŠeTrovat  (investigate, try, sound, inquire)
      -- Czech M213
ZaPiTvam (inquire) -- Bulgarian
ZBaDać (investigate, examine) -- Polish
ZePTat se (inquire) -- Czech

Other possible vestiges of שפט,  SHaPHahDT:
apšaubīt (question) -- Latvian M213
Ichoputa (investigate, verify) -- Igbo
Pētīt (investigate, delve) -- Latvian fricative drops
PyeS (interrogate) -- Albanian ß dental drops