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

Uri Hurwitz uhurwitz at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 26 14:38:55 EST 2004

Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no> wrote:
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

  Dear Rolf,

  Your point is well taken, and could possibly applied to modern languages in general. In fact, we just recieved by E-mail a charming paragraph in which in every signle word the letters were badly garbled, yet the whole was nevertheless enirely readable and sensible.

  On the other hand, one can  think of verses and passages where no temporal indication could be given by a root alone.

   Clearly I have nothing against further refinement of grammatical and analytical tools, but question whether the meaning of biblical original texts is unneccessarily  and wrongly declared to be obscure.

  Best,                             Uri 

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