A Case against Emphasizing Vowel Pointing when Teaching BH

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Adam Balshan
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Re: A Case against Emphasizing Vowel Pointing when Teaching BH

Post by Adam Balshan »

The last time I taught Hebrew, last summer, I had two, bright graduate students who were eager to learn. One seemed to love the class, and the other seemed to put up with it as a necessary evil on the road to understanding the Old Testament. I brought them through a thorough regimen of Pratico and van Pelt's first 10 chapters, with extra work in the Workbook.

I could tell that the intricacies of the standard method, of which Pratico is a stickler, had a deleterious effect on them. I think the merits of William Griffin's andragogy is worth exploring.
Adam Balshan
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Re: A Case against Emphasizing Vowel Pointing when Teaching BH

Post by Adam Balshan »

Jason Hare wrote:It's absurd to say that these things don't exist. They obviously do, and we can predict what a form will be based on how the language behaves generally. It's not all topsy turvy.
Agreed. They certainly exist; grammar is extant from nearly the beginning of time! The Sumerians did it. The Indo-Iranians did it.
There is merit to minimizing the importance of grammar for a certain level of effective reading or speaking, of course. But not that grammar is somehow alien to the language itself. It is inextricable from the organism of language.
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Jason Hare
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Re: A Case against Emphasizing Vowel Pointing when Teaching BH

Post by Jason Hare »

Adam Balshan wrote: Agreed. They certainly exist; grammar is extant from nearly the beginning of time! The Sumerians did it. The Indo-Iranians did it.
There is merit to minimizing the importance of grammar for a certain level of effective reading or speaking, of course. But not that grammar is somehow alien to the language itself. It is inextricable from the organism of language.
We're five weeks away from the final exam in the course that I'm currently giving using Learning Biblical Hebrew by Kutz and Josberger. I'm extremely happy with the students' progress, and we paid attention to the distinction between vowel lengths and syllables, etc. Of course, they can't use Hebrew for communicative purposes, but that's not what we sat out to do. I'm proud of their work, and they've graciously allowed the recording and uploading of all of our lessons together. It's on the YouTube channel www.youtube.com/thehebrewcafe. Our final session will be on May 8. :)
Jason Hare
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The Hebrew Café
יוֹדֵ֣עַ צַ֭דִּיק נֶ֣פֶשׁ בְּהֶמְתּ֑וֹ וְֽרַחֲמֵ֥י רְ֝שָׁעִ֗ים אַכְזָרִֽי׃
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Moses Gummadi
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Re: A Case against Emphasizing Vowel Pointing when Teaching BH

Post by Moses Gummadi »

Without the vowels we know the text gives multiple layers of meanings, but some of them could be accepted as being true simultaneously (like the superposition principle in Quantum Mechanics). We know the Kabbalists use this hermeneutic. Even with the vowels in place, we have many ambiguities in the text (eg. אֶת־יְהוָה in Genesis 4:1), hence possibilities to interpret differently.
Last edited by Moses Gummadi on Mon Sep 13, 2021 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Moses Gummadi
יִרְאֵי יְהוָה בִּטְחוּ בַיהוָה
kwrandolph
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Re: A Case against Emphasizing Vowel Pointing when Teaching BH

Post by kwrandolph »

Moses Gummadi wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 1:11 pm Without the vowels we know the text gives multiple layers of meanings, but some of them could accepted as being true simultaneously (like the superposition principle in Quantum Mechanics). We know the Kabbalists use this hermeneutic. Even with the vowels in place, we have many ambiguities in the text (eg. אֶת־יְהוָה in Genesis 4:1), hence possibilities to interpret differently.
That final example in your message, יראי יהוה בטחו ביהוה needs no points, as it is a very straightforward statement. It consists of a plural noun, personal name, verb, repeat of personal name. The included translation is not correct.

There is the problem of homographs, where a particular word could be derived from two or more roots. An example is שלום which can be derived from either שלה or שלם.

Another problem is not linguistic, rather theological. That reference you made of Genesis 4:1 is more of a theological question than a linguistic one.

The biggest problem is a failure to know Biblical Hebrew really well, connected with an unwillingness to admit it. This is connected with shoddy lexicography such as Gesenius and BDB. There are times when I have to go over a passage several times, what is the subject? Verb? Object? Adjectives? Context? and so forth. It frustrates me when I find I have to look up every word, even those I think I know, in order to come to an understanding of a passage. It’s not uncommon after that to find that I disagree with the points, where I think the points lead to gibberish. It’s at times like that that I want to charge through the passage, like a bull in a china shop, not admitting to my failure.

Karl W. Randolph.
Moses Gummadi
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Re: A Case against Emphasizing Vowel Pointing when Teaching BH

Post by Moses Gummadi »

That final example in your message, יראי יהוה בטחו ביהוה needs no points, as it is a very straightforward statement. It consists of a plural noun, personal name, verb, repeat of personal name. The included translation is not correct.
Oh, that's my signature. I searched יראי (without vowels) and find it in 11 places in WLC, and the morphological resource I have categorises it as "Adjective Masculine Plural Construct". May I know how did you conclude this is a noun?
Moses Gummadi
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kwrandolph
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Re: A Case against Emphasizing Vowel Pointing when Teaching BH

Post by kwrandolph »

Moses Gummadi wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 3:31 pm Oh, that's my signature. I searched יראי (without vowels) and find it in 11 places in WLC, and the morphological resource I have categorises it as "Adjective Masculine Plural Construct". May I know how did you conclude this is a noun?
The whole phrase is found only once, in Psalm 115:11. The form יראי in the unpointed text is that of a plural construct masculine participle-noun, in this case a noun of the actors. The context from the preceding verses indicates that it is a noun. The Masoretic points are wrong. Literally, it says “fearers of יהוה” better rendered in English as “those who fear יהוה”. This is one of many examples where the Masoretic points confuse instead of clarifying what is written in the consonantal text.

Karl W, Randolph.
Moses Gummadi
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Re: A Case against Emphasizing Vowel Pointing when Teaching BH

Post by Moses Gummadi »

kwrandolph wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 10:33 pm Literally, it says “fearers of יהוה” better rendered in English as “those who fear יהוה”.
Why do you translate it in the third person instead of the second person when the verb בִּטְחוּ in the context is in 2p masculine plural?

PS: Ah, I get it. You might argue without the vowels it can be Qal Qatal 3cp (בָּֽטְחוּ)
Moses Gummadi
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kwrandolph
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Re: A Case against Emphasizing Vowel Pointing when Teaching BH

Post by kwrandolph »

Moses Gummadi wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 3:18 am
kwrandolph wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 10:33 pm Literally, it says “fearers of יהוה” better rendered in English as “those who fear יהוה”.
Why do you translate it in the third person instead of the second person when the verb בִּטְחוּ in the context is in 2p masculine plural?

PS: Ah, I get it. You might argue without the vowels it can be Qal Qatal 3cp (בָּֽטְחוּ)
The phrase יראי יהוה can be either second or third person, and I considered that possibility. However, looking at the context of the whole psalm, verses 2–8 the verb “trust” is consistently in the third person. Then the writer switches to Israel, the house of Aaron, those who fear יהוה, that context indicates a continuation of the subject being third person. Then the second part of each verse עזרם ומגנם הוא is third person, referring back to the first part of the verse. So the contexts even within the verses indicate that the subject is third person.

My conclusion is that the Masoretic points in this verse are demonstrably wrong as far as meaning is concerned. Because the points are demonstrably wrong, being able to read the text without the points is a definite advantage because the reader then is not trapped by the points.

Karl W. Randolph.
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Jason Hare
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Re: A Case against Emphasizing Vowel Pointing when Teaching BH

Post by Jason Hare »

Moses Gummadi wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 3:31 pm
That final example in your message, יראי יהוה בטחו ביהוה needs no points, as it is a very straightforward statement. It consists of a plural noun, personal name, verb, repeat of personal name. The included translation is not correct.
Oh, that's my signature. I searched יראי (without vowels) and find it in 11 places in WLC, and the morphological resource I have categorises it as "Adjective Masculine Plural Construct". May I know how did you conclude this is a noun?
It is indeed a substantive adjective (an adjective that is being made to stand in for a noun). It is not a noun.
Jason Hare
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The Hebrew Café
יוֹדֵ֣עַ צַ֭דִּיק נֶ֣פֶשׁ בְּהֶמְתּ֑וֹ וְֽרַחֲמֵ֥י רְ֝שָׁעִ֗ים אַכְזָרִֽי׃
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