[b-hebrew] Post biblical forms of Hebrew

James Christian jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com
Fri Oct 16 14:37:30 EDT 2009

Well, to be honest Randall you yourself have advocated that spoken and
written Hebrew were two very different things. And, in fact, we see this
phenomenon in all languages. Writing is essentially a very special form of
monologue. I cannot speak or produce any ancient Greek. I don't have any
problems reading it though. And in fact I often have situations where
someone has asked me how do you say such and such in ancient Greek and I
know that I know but can't produce it. But reading those terms that I
already know is no problem. They are fully internalised. Even for long
periods of not reading any Greek I can pick it up and read just like I could
do. In fact, research shows that production and comprehension deteriorate in
different ways. e.g. I haven't lived in Italy for many years now and so when
I speak Italian it takes a while for the rusty cogs of Italian to grind
their way to full throttle and allow me to speak with the level of fluency I
once could do. However, my comprehension has not degraded in the slightest.
Reading is even easier because you can go at the speed which is comfortable
to you. I can read Portuguese quite well but when they speak I haven't got
the foggiest idea what they are talking about as I have had only a few
minutes of contact with spoken Portuguese.

You are making very strong claims with no psycholinguistic basis and, in
fact, in several areas the psycholinguistics would stand in stark contrast
to your claims. It is quite clear that Hebrew and BHebrew are different
languages. The internalisation of Hebrew is undoubtedly going to affect your
internalisation of BHebrew which you only ever read. You can try to speak
BHebrew artificially in a classroom but until Moses, Elijah and Isaiah are
raised from the dead and show us how to do it properly (even if they agree)
it will only ever be an artificial exercise which is deeply affected by your
internalisation of Hebrew. There simply is no way to deny it.

You cannot say I value so and so's opinion more than Karl's because Karl
does not speak Modern Hebrew. Well, OK, you can but it doesn't make you look
very objective. What you can do, and save objective face, is say I disagree
with Karl because of data X, Y and Z. It may very well be that Karl has a
better internalisation of reading BHebrew than you because he has not
allowed himself to be ifluenced by learning spoken Modern Hebrew.

And, I don't agree that all people who have learned Modern Hebrew agree that
it is the best way of learning BHebrew. My lecturer Dr Davila had learned
Modern Hebrew by spening time in Isreal and he insisted that the languages
were completely different in terms of:

a) pronunciation
b) grammar
c) meaning

and his general advice was that learning Modern Hebrew can be useful for
gaining familiarity with the alphabet and the vocabulary but that caution
should be exercised precisely for these kind of problems. He did not view
learning Modern Hebrew as an essential way of internalising BHebrew. His
advice to me was to just keep reading more and more BHebrew. So there is at
least one person who disproves your mythical set of 'all' people who have
learned both would advocate ... I am sure there are many more.

Of course, this is not to say that I won't learn the language. I don't
suffer from those kind of problems associated with differentiating
languages. But this is probably only because I already speak so many
different languages and have had to resolve those kind of problems so many
times before.

James Christian

2009/10/16 Randall Buth <randallbuth at gmail.com>

> I don't see the relevance of your post to my post. Forgive me.
> On Fri, Oct 16, 2009 at 3:09 PM, James Christian
> <jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com> wrote:
> > The only you've just proved there is the general point. There are
> different
> > types of learners with different types of experiences.
> . . .  (very long)
> That point was not the issue and we agree.
> The issue was whether modern Hebrew was detrimental.
> And I tend to value higher the opinions of those who know both.
> A subpoint is whether a person can truly internalize a language
> by reading only.
> Perhaps a point between the lines was whether staying in English, or
> some other language than Hebrew, will somehow be more positive than
> modern Hebrew.
> Randall
> > 2009/10/15 Randall Buth <randallbuth at gmail.com>
> >>
> >> >> If his purpose is to read Tanakh, learning modern Hebrew before he
> has
> >> >> mastered Biblical Hebrew may actually detract from his understanding
> of
> >> >> the
> >> >> text.>>
> >> >
> >> >I agree wholeheartedly with Karl here. Randall,
> >>
> >> Which means that two people who have not learned modern Hebrew
> >> feel that learning modern Hebrew might be detrimental. That's their
> >> experience and their choice.
> >>
> >> I've seen many students go through the opposite reaction. After learning
> >> modern Hebrew they wonder why there was a debate and hesitation in the
> >> first
> >> place.
> >>
> >> Which is why I recommend that people should get advice from those who
> >> know both.
> >>
> >> And while we are theoretically open to having teachers at BLC who
> fluently
> >> control biblical but do not speak modern, we've not yet met any that
> could
> >> do
> >> this.
> >>
> >> Randall
> >>
> >> --
> >> Randall Buth, PhD
> >> www.biblicalulpan.org
> >> randallbuth at gmail.com
> >> Biblical Language Center
> >> Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> b-hebrew mailing list
> >> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> >> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
> >
> >
> --
>  Randall Buth, PhD
> www.biblicalulpan.org
> randallbuth at gmail.com
> Biblical Language Center
> Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

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