[b-hebrew] GAGA Hebrew ?! (was Perception . . .)
kwrandolph at gmail.com
Fri Jan 22 15:17:39 EST 2010
On Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 9:44 AM, James Christian
<jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com>wrote:
> And so with English we see the opposite phenomenon. We see our perception
> being influenced by our alphabet rather than our alphabet being formed from
> our perception.
With the granularity of modern western alphabets extending down to the
individual phoneme level, most westerners who grew up in these alphabets
look for Biblical Hebrew to have the same level of detail. It doesn’t.
With this level of detail. people tend to read word by word.
One of the advantages of dyslexia, is that I can’t trust that I have
accurately perceived the written text, therefore I developed a way of
reading in context. When I read a word, I anticipate what will be the next
word, both on the basis of the word I am reading, and on the basis of the
flow of ideas that preceded that word. After much practice, I do it
unconsciously and seldom make mistakes. But the extra processing that my
mind does, means that I can’t speed read.
The advantage of English and other western languages is that they have
fairly strict word order rules, hence if I “see” a word out of order, I know
there’s a mistake. There are only a limited number of words that can follow
a subject, for example, so it is fairly easy to recognize an “incorrect”
Such is not the case with koiné Greek nor Hebrew.
When reading unpointed Hebrew, the smallest unit of reading is a phrase.
Which is the verb? Subject? Object? etc. There are no strict rules of word
order. The verb can be the last word in the phrase, the first, or implicit
from a preceding phrase. Sometimes I have to read a few verses around a
verse in question to get enough context to understand the verse. Rarely, I
have to go back to the beginning of a chapter to get sufficient context to
understand a verse well along in the chapter (normally, when reading for
myself, that’s where I start anyways).
I notice I use the term “context” on this list more than all other posters
When I try to help other people read the text one-on-one, (first of all,
they are intimidated by the fact I read the unpointed text, so they pull up
their copy of a pointed text and have it side by side), I notice that they
read the text word by word, not phrase by phrase. They depend on the points
to tell them what is each word. What if the points are wrong? They are lost.
That is the basis for much of the misunderstandings of the text.
Another aspect of dyslexia and learning to anticipate the next word, is that
it helps a person learn a second language. And if studied long and hard
enough, he develops a feeling for how a language acts.
To give an example, when the Jehoash Stone forgery came out, I eagerly got a
copy of an image to read it. I have no trouble reading archaic Hebrew
script, so I read it right off. Just as in CG where the action is almost on,
but barely perceptibly off so it bothers people who watch it, bothers them
more because they feel it, but can’t explain exactly why, so I had the same
feeling within a few lines of reading the text. I had to read the text a few
times before I was able to express why it bothered me. The forger did a good
job, but the cadence was just off, slightly. But those who read the text
word by word missed that, instead they focussed on the use of the word “to
repair” used in the bottom line as the clue that indicates a modern forgery,
despite its use in 2 Chronicles 34:10.
In conclusion, I think James is right, our alphabet is influencing how we
look at language, instead of the other way around.
> James Christian
Karl W. Randolph.
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