[b-hebrew] OT: a link about Modern Hebrew

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Mon Jun 7 15:01:35 EDT 2004


Believe it or not, I have trouble reading Shakespeare. The grammar is slightly different and there are hundreds of lexemes that have either dropped out of modern use (not so bad, just look up a dictionary) or changed their definitions (can be really bad, because one thinks he understands the text, but in reality he misunderstands it, often making the text incomprehensible in its context). Therefore, if the only reason for a non-English speaking student to study English is to read Shakespeare, would he be better off learning modern English first, then the differences between Shakespearean and modern English, or only Shakespearean English so that all his thought patterns as he studies Shakespeare are consistent with the English as it was used at that time?

And the differences between modern and Shakespearean English are far less than the differences between Biblical and modern Hebrew.

When I look at Hebrew, I expect certain patterns, I expect certain ways of writing, certain definitions and certain spellings, that are more similar to ancient Aramaic (as found in Daniel and Ezra), a language so different that people speaking one could not understand the other, than they are to modern Hebrew. The differences appear to me less like the differences between modern to Shakespearean English and more like the differences between modern English and Anglo-Saxon, or at least Chaucerian English.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "VC" <vadim_lv at center-tv.net>

> Dear Karl,
> What you are saying makes sense, but I don't find it hard to separate
> between modern and ancient lexemes. Apparently, your modern English does not
> prevent you from reading Shakespeare. But I would certainly agree that one
> should study from ancient to modern, not vice versa - that is, if he has a
> choice.
> Sincerely,
> Vadim Cherny
> > I view the difference between modern and Biblical Hebrew to be greater
> than the difference between ancient Hebrew and ancient Aramaic, which the
> speakers of one could not understand the other.
> >
> > For me, personally, ignorance of modern Hebrew was not of choice, but
> because I did not have the opportunity to study modern Hebrew. Now I view it
> as an advantage. I studied Biblical Hebrew from an unpointed text. I read it
> in a font from before the Galut Babel. I read it while analysing lexemes
> from every occurrance found in Tanakh according to a recognized scholarly
> concordance. My goal was to learn Biblical Hebrew the same way a native
> speaker in the 8th century BC would have learned it.
> >
> > To give an example: I learned German while living in an area where the
> local dialect spoken was a branch of Alamanisch (which, apparently, Rashi
> spoke. I noticed Yiddisch is similar to Alamanisch.). Now, when I try to
> speak German, I have an Alamanisch accent. However, it is corrupted by my
> ancestral language of Norwegian. Germans, when they hear that, can't figure
> out which part of Germany I'm from. The Alamanisch accent mixed with the
> Norwegian accent mixed into my high German makes for quite a confusion.
> >
> > My ignorance of modern Hebrew is now an advantage, as my Biblical Hebrew
> is uncontaminated by even Mishnaic Hebrew. So, for example, when I viewed
> the "Josiah stone" forgery, I had a whole list of examples that sounded
> strange long before I reached the use of BDQ as a verb that tipped off those
> who know modern Hebrew that the stone might be a forgery. In fact, the BDQ
> example was rather minor IMHO than the other examples.
> >
> > This is not the same as knowing modern French to understand medieval
> French, rather it is more like knowing modern English to understand
> Anglo-Saxon.
> >
> > Karl W. Randolph.
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