[b-hebrew] lexicography

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Wed Nov 19 17:55:35 EST 2003

On 16/11/2003 01:12, Karl Randolph wrote:

>Like Peter Kirk, my native tongue is English, however I have lived in non-English speaking environments forcing me to learn other languages. From those experiences I learned how to learn foreign languages, not as a second language, but as much as possible as a native speaker. I have tried to take the lessons learned to apply them to learning Biblical Hebrew.
All of this applies to me as well, by the way.

>The first lesson I learned is that lexemes have one core meaning (unless where there are two lexemes with the same pronunciation that have merged, like “to” and “two” in English). I found it easiest to learn to use the lexemes correctly if I could learn that core definition to recognize how it is used, even if it didn’t make sense in English. As far as I can tell, this is what Rolf Furuli means with his psycho-linguistics in word definitions.
>Another of the lessons I applied was to compare synonyms, sometimes contrasting antonyms, to find out what lexemes mean. For example, there are over a dozen synonyms for R)H [ra‘ah] “to look, see” in Tanakh. Some synonyms have a broad meaning, such as “to put” in English, others much more restricted, such as “to set up”.
>One concept specific to Biblical Hebrew, look to see how lexemes are actually used in Hebrew, not how we think (for theological or other reasons) they should mean. Ah, theologians love to spin airy castles of theological meaning, often based on definitions I couldn’t find when I looked at the original text. (Maybe I’m not imaginative enough.)
I like your approach here.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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