[b-hebrew] Re: organic language learning (was: "Basic question on Qal, Piel, and Pual")

Brian Beers bbeers at ComplianceServices.com
Thu Jul 24 01:42:23 EDT 2003

Sameer wrote:
Your illustration is poignant, and I agree that a
language is best studied in conjunction with its
living tradition.  

However, I wonder if you could make the relation
between the legitimate study of a classical language
and its living tradition more explicit.  Does the
inability of a scholar to interact with the living
tradition invalidate his contribution to the study of
its classical predecessor?  If so, why?  


I am going to jump in here with both feet. I am a seminary student striving to become proficient in Hebrew, and this topic gives me hope to strengthen my Hebrew

The answer has to do with the relationship between language and thought.
Our thinking is shaped by the language that we "think in."
We usually form thoughts in our native language.
I had an "out of English" moment in High School while I was taking German. I looked at some object, and I identified it by its German name. 
I have heard that an indicator that you are becoming familiar with a language might be if you realize that you had a dream in which that language was spoken.
...But this delves into the realm of psycho-linguistic theories, and I am already in over my head.
This subject fascinates me, and I hope that some others will help mop up my pool of ignorance.

As I struggle through a Hebrew text, I see thought patterns that are linguistically different from my own.
If I am fluent in the spoken form of a language will a different part of my brain can process the meanings and, most significantly, the relationships between words, phrases and ideas?

I wonder what my scholarship would look like if I were able to think about the Proverbs with Hebrew words. Right now I have to trash the structure so I can determine if I am looking at the object or the subject of a verb --and my best clue is remembering the Proverb.
What I find is good, but aesthetically/literarily ...uninspiring. 
If I could approach it without having to perform even a mental translation, how much more might I be able to communicate the text to those who hear me.


Time to go and get some sleep...and maybe dream in Hebrew...

Brian Beers
Northwest Baptist Seminary

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