[b-hebrew] Beginners unpointed text reading course
JAMES CHRISTIAN READ
JCR128 at student.anglia.ac.uk
Fri Aug 24 02:50:13 EDT 2007
KWR: Getting back to teaching unpointed Biblical Hebrew, the biggest
challenge that I can see is in teaching students to recognize the
different binyanim. In teaching Masoretic Hebrew, we can say "This set
of points define a Qal, and this other set a Piel" and so forth, but
without the points, the difference between the Qal, Piel, even many
Hiphils, Hophals, Niphals, etc. will have to be recognized by their
function in context as their consonantal forms are often identical.
Have you given any thought to this question? How would one teach to
recognize those functions? Have you given any thought to teaching
students to recognize functions?
JCR: If we are to make the assumption that the aim of
the course is to bring the student to an instinctive
reading of the text similar to that of a native Hebrew
then I would make the following observation.
The level of analysis of the Hebrew verb system we
refer to as the Qal, Hiphil etc. is the invention of
medieval Hebrew grammarians and while useful for a
high level analysis of the language provides little use
for understanding the text. I would suggest that your
average native Hebrew had little more than a passive
understanding of these forms and was more concerned
with the meaning of words in context than in their
actual form and in the grammatical conventions used
(none used at that time to the best of my knowledge) to
I would therefore treat these consonants as any other
combination of consonants which have multiple possible
pronunciations. I would leave the context to dictate
the correct pronunciation and therefore the meaning.
This is why I feel that my n-grams are such useful
units of teaching. They are ready made natural lexical
chunks that can already provide enough collational
evidence to make the decision.
Regards the use of images as a learning aid. I guess
the thing I really liked about the book is the fact
that it is language independent. Anybody of any nation
could pick that book up and learn basic Hebrew
vocabulary and phrases independently of their mother
Another thing I like about it is the fact that it
represents the natural way of learning language -
associating words with objects/situations. The main
problem with second language learning is that in the
process of associating target language labels with
first language labels the student is running the risk
of falling into traps of assuming that there is a
100% 1:1 mapping of concepts. Another problem with this
method of learning is that it inhibits the student's
ability to start thinking in the target language
because instead of going from:
cognitive understanding -> audible label
they go from:
cognitive understanding -> audible label in first language -> audible label in target language
and so are taught from the very outset to translate
mentally rather than to understand directly.
Another point in favour of the use of images is the
psychological research that different learners learn
in different ways. Modern English courses are based on
this philosophy and generally present a good mix of
images, texts, audio samples to take advantage of the
whole array of learning mechanisms.
Perhaps, a mix of images and first language equivalents
would be the best way forward. What do you think?
Anyway, I forgot to mention pronunciation. Perhaps the
first chapter should be dedicated to syllable
pronunciation. Traditional grammar tend to deal with
pronunciation on a per letter basis but I feel that
this betrays the natural mechanisms of phonetic
training. In every language I know of natural phonetic
training consists of phonetic training at the syllable
level. Perhaps our course should also follow this
tried and tested model.
Any thoughts? Feelings?
James Christian Read - BSc Computer Science
http://www.lamie.org/hebrew - thesis1: concept driven machine translation using the Aleppo codex
http://www.lamie.org/lad-sim.doc - thesis2: language acquisition simulation
ys the natural mechanisms of phonetic
training. In every language I know of na
More information about the b-hebrew