[b-hebrew] Hebrew and the Elements of Language

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Aug 22 16:27:28 EDT 2007


James:

On 8/22/07, JAMES CHRISTIAN READ <JCR128 at student.anglia.ac.uk> wrote:
> The following is a very short consideration of what the
> real 'elements' of language are with consideration to
> what they may be in Biblical Hebrew.
>
> ...
>
> A quick scan of this first column shows that the most
> fundamental elements of the Hebrew language are Yhwh,
> Isreal, [the] sons of [Isreal], [the] king [of Isreal]
> etc.
>
> Any thoughts?
>
> James Christian Read
> BSc Computer Science
> thesis1: concept driven machine translation using the Aleppo codex
> http://www.lamie.org/hebrew (thesis1 and resources)
> thesis2: language acquisition simulation
> http://www.lamie.org/lad-sim.doc (thesis2)

Two questions:

1) Does the sequence of learning indicate importance in a mature
language, or can what was learned earlier become overshadowed by later
learning?

2) Does frequency = importance, i.e. what is used most commonly is
also the most important, or can there be a hierarchy of value so that
a linguistic element that is used less often yet can trump a
linguistic element that is used more often?

An example of the first is when first learned, "Pretty is what looks
good", can it later change to "Pretty is as pretty does"? Upon
maturation the verb becomes more important than nouns? Or what defines
(WP in Tanakh is not the looks, rather the action, namely these are
all creatures that fly, including locusts and bats?

And on the second question, that the most common elements used in
sentences may not be the most important? So, for example, even though
verbs are used less often than nouns in Biblical Hebrew, they can be
the most important element of a sentence with even the subject noun
more of a modifier of the verb than the other way around?

Language acquisition usually starts with the lowest common
denominator, namely what can be communicated even without language
knowledge (point to it), but does a mature knowledge stay on the same
level? The experiments that you cited seem to be based on that
assumption.

Karl W. Randolph.



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