Words for 'white'

The Hebrew word for white is laban — לבן. A figure with this name occurs in Genesis chapter 29 and onwards.
When Jacob was sent to Haran in search of a wife, it was not because a white one would be better, as we can see in chapter 28:

Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father, Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth. — verses 6-9, ESV.

A related name is the place name Lebanon, commonly thought to refer to the whiteness of that snow-covered mountain range.

Old Irish: bán
Welsh: gwên/gwyn
Laban contains the sounds l-a-b, which is similar to Latin albus, and Latvian balts, Lithuanian baltas, all meaning ‘white’. Then there is a scandinavian word for a certain pre-historic people that typically figures in tales: alver ‘elves, fairies’.
Some place names: Albania, Alba (older kingdom of Scotland), Alfheimr (older kingdom on the border between Norway and the Geats)
The words starting with alb- have a reconstructed Proto-Indoeuropean root *albh-. From another root *bhel- are thought to come the slavic words for white that typically starts with bel-. Polish: biały, Russian: белый. Curiously, even words like black, blank and flame belongs to *bhel-. Is it a coincidence that bla- in ‘black’ and fla- in ‘flame’ are anagrams of alb- in ‘albus’ and alf- in ‘alf’?
Greek λευκός is traced to PIE root *leuk-, Latin lux, Gothic liuhaþ, English light and Swedish ljus and låga.
From PIE *ḱweit-, there is Polish światło ‘light’ and similar words in Lithuanian, Gothic ƕeits ‘white’ and most Germanic languages have words for ‘white’ similar to English.
Syriac has חור chiwar, perhaps meaning silver coloured or transparent rather than white, and ܬܠܓ t-l-g ‘to become white’.
If we look at the word pale it has a relative fǫlr in Old Norse, Lithuanian palšas ‘light yellow’ and something like plavъ ‘white’ in Old Church Slavonic.
Ethnonyms such as Belorussians, White Serbs and White Syrians have been explained as the colour white also serving as a word for the direction North. So, for example, the White Syrians in Cappadokia and Galatia were the Northern Syrians (and perhaps white). The country Sudan got its name, according to Wikipedia from Arabic bilād as-sūdān ‘the lands of the Blacks’. What if Arabic sawad too has given rise to a word for a cardinal direction? South is called suður in Icelandic, suder in Swedish from the 16th century, German has süden and there are similar forms in other Germanic languages.
Maybe some day we will even be able to figure why things keep going south.

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