[b-hebrew] Using an unpointed text

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sat Aug 25 15:13:27 EDT 2007

On 8/25/07, JAMES CHRISTIAN READ wrote:

> JCR: That's a good example of the difficulties that
> any reader would face on reading an unpointed text but
> please answer this question:
> Given the sentence 'He rd his bike for 10 miles without stop' just how
> many of these homonyms would fit the context?
> Or for that matter the following sentences:
> 'They left Moses in a basket in the river between the rds'
> 'They beat him with a rd 50 times for his disobedience'
> 'That boy is so rd. He never says thank you for anything'

Your sentences are contrived.  For example, take the last one --
why would anyone need to add a whole new sentence except to
make up for the missing vowels in your contrived example?  And
why don't you have the entire sentence without vowels?  "thy lft
mss n a bskt n th rvr btwen th rds", "tht by s s rd. h nvr sys thnk
y fr nthng."  And note that here, we are not working from a closed
corpus and we have access to native speakers.

Sure, some words can be made out, but all I am saying is that
one needs an understanding of the different possible vowels that
a word can take.  In a closed corpus, without vowels, with no
access to any native speaker, you will not have enough
information to discern clear meanings in the words.  One can
compare the amount of understanding we have of Ugaritic where
we have some transliteration in cuneiform as well as indications
of vowels in the case of the letter Aleph to that of North/South
Arabian scripts which are almost purely consonantal (but have
mater lectionis in some cases).  This becomes especially
significant if your goal is the native speaker's intuitive
understanding -- since that understanding is acquired only through
learning the various possible forms a word can take.

Yitzhak Sapir

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