[b-hebrew] (RWT in meaning?

Yaakov Stein yaakov_s at rad.com
Sun Jun 1 02:30:34 EDT 2008


Karl,

You once asked me if I have read Tanach in English translation,
to which I answered that I have tried, but couldn't endure the
experience.

I think that this too is related to the issue of reading with or without
the vocalization according to the Masorah.

The single most annoying thing I found in the translations 
is the appearance of a large number of extraneous "and"s.

"And it came to pass"
"And God said"
etc. etc.

I think that at least part of the problem is that the translator
did not use vocalized text, and misinterpreted the vav prefix
of the long past and future tenses (vav hahipuch), with the vav of
conjunction.

Of course, if one were to use vocalized text, one would observe
that the vav meaning "and" is VE 
(unless before BUMP or shva when it changes to U
or before Y when it changes to VEE)
while the vav prefix of the long past tense is VA.

So WAYHY is "it came to pass" while WIHY is "and it will happen".

I undertand that this ridiculous overuse of the conjunction
is considered by English bible readers to be "biblical style"
and they learn to disregard the "and"s.

And to me this doesn't sound like the tanach at all.
And I think it would be a nice for someone to make a translation without
all the extraneous ands.
And that would be good.

Now you may say that the masorete's vocalization is rather late
and thus actually a form of commentary. To that I would answer that
the masoretes listened to how the Torah was religiously read yearly 
for at least 1000 years before their time (and less frequently for even
longer),
and tried to capture what they heard. They also wrote many volumes on
when they heard alternatives and why they chose what they chose.

I would suggest that you look into some of the Masorete literature
before completely dismissing its vocalization.
Although parsing the MASORAH GDOLA can be difficult
(due to the large number of abbreviations and quaint Aramaic
expressions)
the MINHAT SHAY is quite accessible.

I completely agree that errors certainly occurred, 
as always happens when text is handed down over the generations.
However, this also certainly happened to the letters
(I will give my favorite case of this in a separate email).

Yaakov (J) Stein




More information about the b-hebrew mailing list