[b-hebrew] Post biblical forms of Hebrew

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Sat Oct 17 10:31:26 EDT 2009

I'm still a little puzzled at what you are referring to.

On Fri, Oct 16, 2009 at 8:37 PM, James Christian
<jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com> wrote:
> Well, to be honest Randall you yourself have advocated that spoken and
> written Hebrew were two very different things.
. . .

I'm not sure how that fits into the discussion nor what 'very different things'

> You are making very strong claims with no psycholinguistic basis

I'm not sure what claims you are referring to, and from other notes below
I'm not sure that I will/was being quoted in context.
But I'm glad to hear of your interest in psycholinguistics. There are
studies showing significant sound processing during reading, even in languages
like Chinese that are primarily pictograph (semantic logograms).
And if you would like a statement, then --
it is difficult to conceive how a person would be fluent in a second language
where they could not and did not speak/think to themselves in that language.

> You can try to speak
> BHebrew artificially in a classroom

In a sense, this is done whenever a language is taught by second language
users. While it would be nice to have Moses, drop by, us second language
users will need to continue with the BH that we have.

> 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.

This is a strange comment. Are you implying that relying on someone's
about something that they also claim to have not mastered, would be more
'objective'? My view is that the value of modern Hebrew for biblical
is best discussed
by those who have mastered both. Many may disagree with that, but it is still a
reasonable view.
Now if we could get comprehensive, standardized testing we could even
make this truly objective. This does not exist for biblical Hebrew,
and I've been
lamenting this for over ten years in other forums.

> 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 . . . 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.

he/you may be using internalization differently than being able to
rapidly think/
process thought in the language.

> 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

this appears to be a misquote/misallusion of me, and is certainly a
of whatever I said.

>who have
> learned both would advocate ... I am sure there are many more.

I remember saying "many", and I would have implied that a
strong majority would have agreed and that there might be interesting threads
of agreement even among those who disagree.

I would be happy to weigh your professor's comments among others, and
to register it as a view from among those really fluent in the modern language.
I myself know of some who do not recommend modern Hebrew for students,
but they "tend" (note: tend means that this group is not unanimous) to rely
on practical time constraints rather than ideal descriptions of what would be
And we want to foster a forum to discuss these and related issues in
new consultations at SBL and ETS.
An interesting third view on a triangular field/continuum are those
who think that
modern is a definite advantage for biblical Hebrew, but that Biblical Hebrew
itself is best not spoken in a class. this view is typical among those who may
assume that the students will be on a fast track to controlling modern Hebrew
And finally an aside, student interpretations of professor's comments
are not 'best
evidence' to quote Perry Mason, it would be much better to have the
discussion in Hebrew with the persons themselves.


>> 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

Randall Buth, PhD
randallbuth at gmail.com
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

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