Biblical Hebrew Immersion

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Ben Putnam
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2013 11:08 am

Biblical Hebrew Immersion

Postby Ben Putnam » Sat Jun 07, 2014 8:04 am

Begin internalizing—not memorizing, decoding, and translating—the language of biblical Hebrew by observing the language being used as a language in comprehensible contexts. See what I mean, and check out the demo, here (link below).

http://www.biblicallanguagecenter.com/why-works/
Ben Putnam

kwrandolph
Posts: 815
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: Biblical Hebrew Immersion

Postby kwrandolph » Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:27 am

Ben:

Though the methodology is sound for learning modern languages for which we have native speakers, I find myself questioning, how effective this is in learning Biblical Hebrew?

First of all, this uses modern pronunciation. What’s the probability that modern pronunciation is the same as Biblical pronunciation? I suspect almost none.

Secondly, it teaches modern grammar. Or at best Mishnaic to medieval grammar. This is not the same as Biblical Hebrew grammar. Randall Buth and I had many disagreements on this score on the old B-Hebrew site (unfortunately not archived) where I cited Bible passages that contradicted his claims.

My recommendation is that if someone wants to learn Biblical Hebrew, after learning basic Hebrew just pick up Tanakh and start reading, over and over again. That’s what I did. That’s how I learned not only Tanakh but Biblical Hebrew language as well. That was my immersion into Biblical Hebrew language.

Karl W. Randolph.

Mark Lightman
Posts: 73
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:33 pm

Re: Biblical Hebrew Immersion

Postby Mark Lightman » Thu Jun 19, 2014 2:56 pm

kwrandolph wrote:My recommendation is that if someone wants to learn Biblical Hebrew, after learning basic Hebrew just pick up Tanakh and start reading, over and over again. That’s what I did. That’s how I learned not only Tanakh but Biblical Hebrew language as well. That was my immersion into Biblical Hebrew language.

Hi, Karl,

What is your view of the value of supplementing one's reading with listening to audio of the Hebrew Bible, say the well known one of Abraham Shmuelof?
http://www.aoal.org/hebrew_audiobible.htm
This does not have to take time away from one's reading of Tanakh, since you can listen to audio while commuting to work or while doing the dishes. Surely this, if nothing else, moves one closer to immersion than reading only, does it not?

Mark Lightman
Mark Lightman

kwrandolph
Posts: 815
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: Biblical Hebrew Immersion

Postby kwrandolph » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:33 pm

Mark Lightman wrote:
kwrandolph wrote:My recommendation is that if someone wants to learn Biblical Hebrew, after learning basic Hebrew just pick up Tanakh and start reading, over and over again. That’s what I did. That’s how I learned not only Tanakh but Biblical Hebrew language as well. That was my immersion into Biblical Hebrew language.

Hi, Karl,

What is your view of the value of supplementing one's reading with listening to audio of the Hebrew Bible, say the well known one of Abraham Shmuelof?
http://www.aoal.org/hebrew_audiobible.htm


Well, if you don’t mind modern pronunciation…

Mark Lightman wrote:This does not have to take time away from one's reading of Tanakh, since you can listen to audio while commuting to work or while doing the dishes. Surely this, if nothing else, moves one closer to immersion than reading only, does it not?

Mark Lightman


If we knew Biblical Hebrew pronunciation, that would be best.

Modern pronunciation is the international norm now, and it’s probably better than nothing.

Karl W. Randolph.

talmid56
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:02 am
Location: Carlisle, Arkansas, USA

Re: Biblical Hebrew Immersion

Postby talmid56 » Sun Jun 29, 2014 7:57 pm

Well, using Modern pronunciation seems to work for the Israelis when they read the Tanakh aloud. And present-day Greeks typically use Modern Greek pronunciation for reading all periods of ancient Greek, classical included.

This sort of thing is nothing new. When I read French 17th and 18th century literature aloud in college, the professor had us use a modern French (Parisian) accent. When I and other grad students read aloud in Old Spanish, we didn't even use a Castillian accent--we used various Latin-American ones, even for works that were 11th and 14th century. Nobody was bothered by it.

And in English literature classes, when quoting lines from Shakespeare, I've never heard anyone attempt a 17th-century accent. I've seen British actors performing Shakespeare, and they don't either.

My own personal experience is that hearing, speaking, reading aloud, and attempting to write sentences in the ancient languages is helping me retain more of what I'm learning than just silent reading alone does, certainly more than the grammar-translation alone approach did.

Will I make mistakes? Of course. I made mistakes when learning to speak Spanish, too. But persistence and practice pay off. It's time we treated BH as a real language when we learn it and teach it.

Dewayne Dulaney
Dewayne Dulaney
דואיין דוליני

כִּ֤י שֶׁ֨מֶשׁ׀ וּמָגֵן֮ יְהוָ֪ה אֱלֹ֫הִ֥ים חֵ֣ן וְ֭כָבוֹד יִתֵּ֣ן יְהוָ֑ה לֹ֥א יִמְנַע־ט֝֗וֹב לַֽהֹלְכִ֥ים בְּתָמִֽים׃
--Psa. 84:11

kwrandolph
Posts: 815
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: Biblical Hebrew Immersion

Postby kwrandolph » Wed Jul 02, 2014 2:10 pm

talmid56 wrote: Well, using Modern pronunciation seems to work for the Israelis when they read the Tanakh aloud. And present-day Greeks typically use Modern Greek pronunciation for reading all periods of ancient Greek, classical included.

This sort of thing is nothing new. When I read French 17th and 18th century literature aloud in college, the professor had us use a modern French (Parisian) accent. When I and other grad students read aloud in Old Spanish, we didn't even use a Castillian accent--we used various Latin-American ones, even for works that were 11th and 14th century. Nobody was bothered by it.

And in English literature classes, when quoting lines from Shakespeare, I've never heard anyone attempt a 17th-century accent. I've seen British actors performing Shakespeare, and they don't either.


I have nothing against learning the text using modern pronunciation, especially when the ancient pronunciation is unknown as is that of Biblical Hebrew. I learned Biblical Hebrew using modern pronunciation. All I want to emphasize is that modern pronunciation differs from ancient pronunciation and that students should learn that that is the case.

In reading Biblical Hebrew, especially poetry, is appears that the original writing was that of a syllabary where each character consisted of a consonant followed by a vowel, not an alphabet. When reading as a syllabary, there is usually a discernible rhythm that can be heard. In fact, I find that I can look for that rhythm when parsing difficult verses in Psalms, and that rhythm usually clears up the difficulties.

talmid56 wrote:My own personal experience is that hearing, speaking, reading aloud, and attempting to write sentences in the ancient languages is helping me retain more of what I'm learning than just silent reading alone does, certainly more than the grammar-translation alone approach did.

Will I make mistakes? Of course. I made mistakes when learning to speak Spanish, too. But persistence and practice pay off. It's time we treated BH as a real language when we learn it and teach it.

Dewayne Dulaney


I agree with the usefulness of immersion learning. My only question is how best to do it. I did a lot of my immersion not only by reading, reading and reading, but also by memorizing passages.

Karl W. Randolph.

talmid56
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:02 am
Location: Carlisle, Arkansas, USA

Re: Biblical Hebrew Immersion

Postby talmid56 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 5:06 pm

I agree that memorizing passages helps. I plan to get back to that practice, writing them out first. Meanwhile, I am listening to the Hebrew Bible almost every day (currently Jonah, Genesis, and Psalms). That helps with memorization also.

Dewayne Dulaney
Dewayne Dulaney
דואיין דוליני

כִּ֤י שֶׁ֨מֶשׁ׀ וּמָגֵן֮ יְהוָ֪ה אֱלֹ֫הִ֥ים חֵ֣ן וְ֭כָבוֹד יִתֵּ֣ן יְהוָ֑ה לֹ֥א יִמְנַע־ט֝֗וֹב לַֽהֹלְכִ֥ים בְּתָמִֽים׃
--Psa. 84:11

Mark Lightman
Posts: 73
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:33 pm

Re: Biblical Hebrew Immersion

Postby Mark Lightman » Thu Jul 03, 2014 5:23 pm

kwrandolph wrote:I agree with the usefulness of immersion learning. My only question is how best to do it. I did a lot of my immersion not only by reading, reading and reading, but also by memorizing passages.

talmid56 wrote:I agree that memorizing passages helps.

Some people (like myself) learned to read Biblical Hebrew as adults after having memorized some Hebrew prayers as kids or teenagers.
ברוך אתה ה' אלוהינו, מלך העולם, המוציא לחם מן הארץ

For myself I would say this was helpful for internalization, but I have no way of knowing if the time spent memorizing these prayers would have been more helpful for reading if that time was spent doing something else, such as more reading or speaking/listening. I don't have a control group for myself. What do others think who learned Hebrew prayers when they were little. How helpful was it ultimately? Should adult Hebrew learners pursue this? (If you are going to pray, why not pray some prayers in Hebrew?)

I guess my real question is, to what extent is getting bar-mitzvahed a type of de-facto (though limited) Biblical Hebrew immersion?
Mark Lightman

ralph
Posts: 34
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:20 am

Re: Biblical Hebrew Immersion

Postby ralph » Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:40 pm

It's good for hebrew reading but what's missing is there's no effort to understand what you're saying.

If I sit in a biblical hebrew class i'm way ahead on reading but on understanding words, we are all at the same level, knowing the vocabulary that the book uses.

By the way I often heard people say "some people say you 'get barmitzva-ed' but it's not, you become barmitzva". I see you wrote barmitzva-ed so that correction is relevant to you. And if you had no ceremony and did no learning, you'd still automatically become barmitzva when hitting 13.

kwrandolph
Posts: 815
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: Biblical Hebrew Immersion

Postby kwrandolph » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:27 am

Mark Lightman wrote:Some people (like myself) learned to read Biblical Hebrew as adults after having memorized some Hebrew prayers as kids or teenagers.
ברוך אתה ה' אלוהינו, מלך העולם, המוציא לחם מן הארץ


You quote that prayer, and not only do I recognize it, but the tune to which it is sung popped into my head.

The problem with memorizing prayers is that not all of them are Biblical Hebrew. The above one-liner is Biblical Hebrew, but others (which I never learned well) are medieval to modern Hebrews, and some, like Kol Nidre, are Aramaic, not Hebrew at all.

The advantage is that it helped you get used to the sounds and cadences of modern Hebrew pronunciation. Since that’s the pronunciation that everybody uses when reading Tanakh, it’s a help. But I don’t see it being much of a help in learning vocabulary and grammar.

Just my 2¢.

Karl W. Randolph.


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