[b-hebrew] Fact of language?

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Mon Jun 7 18:33:32 EDT 2010


On Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 12:06 PM, Randall Buth <randallbuth at gmail.com> wrote:

> >> In which sense does modern Hebrew treat the binyanim differently than
> did
> > Biblical Hebrew?
> >
> >From what I have seen in Biblical Hebrew, the binyanim modified verbs by
> > imparting meaning to them—qal referred to simple action, hiphil to
> causative
> > action, niphal to passive simple, etc. I have found that recognizing
> these
> > effects has been very useful as a lexicographer in understanding Biblical
> > Hebrew verbs and the actions to which they referred.
> >
> > Now it could be the dictionaries I looked at while bookstore browsing,
> but
> > from what little I have seen, it appears that modern Hebrew treats verbs
> as
> > separate entries depending on in which the binyan they appear, rather
> than
> > as a verb modified, i.e. with additional meaning added to it, by the
> binyan.
> > Now part of that could be that modern words often have different meanings
> > than they did in Biblical Hebrew, so I merely misunderstood the
> > dictionaries, but I often did not recognize the patterns found in
> Biblical
> > Hebrew.
> Yitzhaq has already pointed out by implication that it is precarious to
> give
> advice/opinion about a language that one doesn't control.

While I know Biblical Hebrew, I have repeatedly admitted that I don’t know,
nor even understand, modern Hebrew. It’s a foreign language.

However, there are a few things that I have been told about modern Hebrew,
and those I can repeat.

As for what I noticed while bookstore browsing, I did not make an effort to
memorize specific examples, so when asked by Pere Porta for specific
examples, I decided to wait until the next time I get to a library or
bookstore that has a modern Hebrew dictionary, so I can give an accurate
example of what I noticed. The soonest that will be is next week, if not

If you don’t want to wait that long, you can use
http://translate.google.comwith the expectation that the Hebrew it has
is modern Hebrew. For verbs,
just make sure it has a lamad preceding it.

> On the other hand,
> the biggest problem in this is accounting for the 'etymological fallacy'

In Biblical Hebrew, the binyanim are not the same as etymology, rather they
act like conjugation—adding meaning to the roots. What I see in modern
Hebrew is that the binyanim apparently act as derivatives from the roots,
not as conjugations.

But notice what I say, whenever I speak about modern Hebrew, I almost always
state it in a way that this is my observation that may be wrong.

> … For BH we know what hishlik השליך means--'throw', but there
> is no way to know what *shalak might have meant or if it even existed in
> the
> biblical period, or any period.

When we look at the many times $LK is conjugated and written in Tanakh, it
certainly calls into question the claim that they were all hiphils.

> We know heezin האזין 'listen
> attentively'. But we
> don't know if or what *azan might have meant, if it existed. izzen, אִזֵֹן
> on the other hand appears to mean 'balance/arrange'.

Has it ever occurred to you that when we run into a hiphil, that we add “to
cause to” then see what action then comes into view?

In Kohelet 12:9,  context implies a participle, “one who gives ear (listens)
and investigates”.

> A more preferred style in my opinion would be to list any verbal roots
> without
> vocalization if the qal is unattested.

Why not list all Hebrew words without points, seeing as how many times those
points are wrong to begin with? That’s what I do.

> And pyscholinguistically, I would
> advocate listing verbs like izzen and heezin separately under alef and
> he, as long as they were glossed in the past 3ms, otherwise one should
> list azzen and ha`azin. vocabulary is best learned individually and in
> context, not in cognate groups (see Paul Nation's studies, for one. Or
> think about how to best learn 'to oversee' and 'to overlook'. or nouns
> 'oversight' and 'overlook', and 'overview'. The interference can short
> circuit the long term memory.)

According to this argument, “went” should be listed separately from “go”, as
if there were no connection between the two. The same is true of any of the
really irregular verbs. By this response, you answer both Pere Porta’s and
your own request from the top of this message.

If the binyanim act like conjugations, namely adding meaning to roots, then
the verbs should be taught according to their actions and how the binyanim
affect those actions.

> Anyway, the etymological fallacy is something that is ingrained into many
> beginning Hebrew students by the way in which the language is often
> taught, contrary to the way in which anyone ever learned through direct
> usage, and some common HB pedagogical grammars even list things like
> tsawah צוה 'he commanded'

Seeing as how limited is the Bible, were words found in only one or two
binyanim in Bible found in more binyanim in extra-Biblical usage that was
not preserved? This is not the etymological error, rather a disagreement on

> and I've had students try to say 'shalak' for throw

See above

> and tsava for command

I can understand this error, seeing as CB) means to muster (an army) and
they think that is done through commanding. This word is in qal.

> , and claim that it was good BH, just like
> they had learned.

Well, not how you ‘larnd’ them.

> Randall Buth, PhD
> www.biblicalulpan.org
> randallbuth at gmail.com
> Biblical Language Center
> Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life
> Karl W. Randolph.

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