Modern Hebrew2--BH example
ButhFam at compuserve.com
Sun May 19 08:39:58 EDT 2002
You asked about what be BH.
An example of how one plans material might be the most instructive
for listeners overseas.
A couple of asides as a preliminaries. (1) My daughter is finishing her
MA at Hebrew U, (ha-Hug la-miqra) where she is working on her
German exam this summer. (She was raised around English,
Hebrew, Arabic and Swahili--no Yiddish-- so its pushing her
nicely.) I asked her about the German joke and she hadn't heard it.
That actually speaks of progress in the field.
(2) On the extent of BH I would include contemporary inscriptions
with the biblical period and would personally extend that up through
Dead Sea Hebrew (Late Second Temple Literary Hebrew) even
throwing in the Hasmonean snippet in Qidd66a. - - -
However, for the ulpan we aim at broadly attested stuff that would seem
to have been around in the 7th c BCE according to hurvitzian analysis.
This is not always easy. So how does this work?
Take a concept like social, rhetorical obligation. How does one express
"I need to . . . " "I have to . . ." "I've got to . . ." ?
Today in modern H we say things like
hu tsarix la`asot
Personally, I think this was already current in Second Temple Hebrew
as Mishnaic Hebrew would suggest. Especially suggestive is the abstract
that occurs in 2 Chr 2.15 and Ben Sira 37.8.
But I don't use it in the ulpan because it is marginal in my eyes. The
plain vanilla phrase is
So that is what we drill. For example, if drilling a situation in class
"he has to build a house" one student might point to a male student
and say "`alav livnot bayit".
(yes, with `ayin pronounced, we use a mivta mizraHi plus uvular resh
as bh-listers may hear on #16 of the Hebrew Demo under "courses"
on the website www.biblicalulpan.org)
The teacher may then turn to another student and say "anaHnu"
That student must point to him/herself and some others while
saying " `alenu livnot bayit ".
Then teacher may say to another student "hem". That student
must point to a group of people/students and say
`alehem livnot bayit.
The students are learning BH, learning it faster, retaining it longer,
building initial audio/oral capabilities AND having fun. See
We may even produce some scholars down the road, but
that is a different question altogether. We are also "producing"
housewives and seminary students who return to read parashat
ha-shavua in the heartland of the USA. And that is gratifying.
A final comment: we do not teach modern Hebrew in class, but
we do not isolate them from it either.The "rule" is that in
class we teach and use Biblical Hebrew, outside of class
the students are on their own.
For example, on a field trip a student may ask about a car in
modern and biblical Hebrew as a joke. I will tell them that
mexonit is the common word for a 'car'. What would a time-
machined ancient have said? ulay `agala, o rexev. It's not a
bad game. But we do not teach that in class or as serious BH.
[[A comparison might help give some out there a perspective:
filling 50 minutes of BH classtime with 43 minutes of English. Can
anyone expect that that would be either purer or more efficient?]]
And Fun? In one of the skits on sefer Yonah, Yonah says
"yesh li Hol ba-pe" students are asked to say things like "yesh li
mayim bape . . . dam . . . yayin . . . rir . The last one (drool, snot)
isn't so common in BH but it's fun
veha-talmidim zoxrim ma ze rir.
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