[b-hebrew] A Jewish perspective on reading biblical hebrew

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Fri Nov 26 00:51:48 EST 2004

Dear Uri,

If you are teaching students,  I suggest the following test:  Take a 
narrative text of a page or so, and change all the finite and infinite 
verbs into bare roots, to the point where there is no difference between 
YIQTOL, WAYYIQTOL etc.  Then, let your students translate the text   
     ( they should be able to use a lexicon in order to understand the 
lexical meaning of each root).

I would guess that those who have a relatively good grasp of Hebrew 
would be able to translate the text rather easily, including the 
temporal reference of each clause.  If that turns out to be true, it 
would show that the form of the verb (the conjugations) are less 
important for grasping the broad meaning of a text, but they are 
important for understanding the subtleties of the text.

I would suppose that the test would work quite well with modern Hebrew 
as well.

Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

Uri Hurwitz wrote:

>Dave Washburn <dwashbur at nyx.net> wrote:
>"..... But as you may have gathered from this 
>board, the perfect/imperfect thing doesn't exactly work, either. We're 
>fairly sure that BH isn't tensed, but it doesn't really seem to be aspectual, 
>either. That's why many of us are engaged in ongoing research, trying to 
>figure out exactly what it is (at the moment, we can only tell you what it 
>isn't). "
>-- Now the mystery really deepens: if the above is correct, how could this language have been in use for thousands of years, been  translated to practically every written language; how could commentators delude themselves they understaood it  -- since the the days of the Dead Sea Scrolls  at least, if its very basic verbal system defies comprehension?
>  Perhaps it is simply the difference  between the use of a language on the one hand, and the  grammatical tools  that are employed to analyze it, tools that by their nature are  constructs and abstractions?
>  Uri

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