Slip-ups in Teaching BH, Randy

Randall Buth ButhFam at
Mon May 20 18:35:06 EDT 2002

shalom Bryan,

The following gets into some productive discussion. Thank you.

>probably bappa`am hazzo't or bayyom hazzeh would be better
>for English's temporal "now" (Israeli Hebrew's `axshav)
>since `attah usually points more to a necessary conclusion
>(like "as a result..." or "in consideration of the previous
>information...") than a moment in time.

In fact,  
`atta, ve`atta,
is most often used in class to move into a new item, 
to change direction. Nice, huh?

bappa`am hazzo't is a bit punctiliar, aoristic, though useful in 
some contexts. Likewise, bayyom hazzeh for a broader 'now'.

vexa`et katavta:           (thought you'd like that)
>I would think that the teacher who is fluent in Modern
>Hebrew would slip into over-use of the X-qatal syntax for
>story telling.  Is this a common slip up, too?  

Actually not. Little, live summaries are done with vav-ha-hippux.
Longer stories are usually 'canned' (straight from the bible)

>Do you think
>the teachers have internalized the funcitonality of the
>vayyiqtol/X-qatal alternation or do you think the influence
>of the modern Hebrew is too ingrained to do so?

Yes, to enough of a degree and also with enough of a 'monitor' 
that one young teacher doing a tutorial with me as a student at the 
University has been very perceptive in surveying and analyzing the 
textlingusitic stuff coming out in the 90's.

We want the teachers to use the vayyiqtol forms, and 
we get to some of them with TPR (total physical response) by the 
end of the first week. However, those forms usually occur in multiple 
clause contexts and beginning-beginning students have trouble with 
multiple clauses. As a language teacher you may have noticed that 
students tend to make break-throughs from one plateau to another. 
From handling five-syllable lines, to 8-10 syllable lines to 12-15 
syllable lines. Va-ha-hippux structures tend to prefer the 12-15+ 
syllable level. We do this in structured oral biblical substitiution 
drills, mostly done quite rapidly in the drill, but students do not reach 
that level of FLUENCY in six weeks. (E.g. `od arba`im yom 
veninve nehpaxet is already eleven syllables and not a lot of room 
for vavhahippux.)
>How important do you think it is for the teacher of BH to
>internalize the fine points of BH word order, ala (for
>example) Lars Lode's conclusions about post-verbal word

Word order is very important. 
I don't remember what Lars wrote on this but Christo van der 
Merwe has a good summary of the principles in a couple of 
pages of his last chapter of an intermediate grammar. 
You might be surprised at how 'natural' the principles are. 
Pronouns and highly pre-supposed stuff (as though it were a pronoun)
toward the verb and between the Verb and subject, 
otherwise, S--O--PrPhrase--X-Xplace-Xtime. length/heavy constituents
 and 'more salient' may be left for the end. Plus, one can always have
a 'false start' or slip in an appositive, parenthesis, or tack on a TAIL.
Some adverbs are a part of one constituent or another and so occur with
it. A lot of this lines up with general universal principles for a VSO 
language, and the specifics of the pronouns and between Verb--Subject
slot are not so hard to manipulate.

Sometimes I hear a fear behind statements: "maybe someone will make 
a mistake?!" Well, bless them, of course they will make a mistake, I
do it every few seconds in English. The only way to not make mistakes 
is to not learn a language to ones capacity, and that would be the biggest 
mistake of all. I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of mistakes it 
takes to become fluent in a language?


Randall Buth

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