[b-hebrew] reading unpointed Hebrew

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman joel at exc.com
Fri Nov 24 13:09:51 EST 2006

>Even then, I was taught that if I could learn to read Biblical Hebrew
>without points, it would be a real plus. But I was also taught that
>only the top scholars ever got good enough to be able to read an
>unpointed text, and that we common readers would never get that good.
>That was one of the lessons I forgot to follow.

I do not think that reading (that is, understanding) unpointed Hebrew
is significantly more difficult than reading pointed Hebrew, and, in
fact, sometimes the vowels get in the way of clarity.  For example, in
unpointed Hebrew, the prefix VAV means "and" (among other things), but
in pointed Hebrew, that same prefix "and" can be, V', VA, VE, U, etc.
Similarly, the relationship between MELEKH ("king") and MALKA
("queen") is transparently the same as that between KAXOL ("blue [m]")
and K'XULA ("blue [f]") only without the vowels.


Joel M. Hoffman, PhD

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