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View Diary: D'var Torah: Vayetze (29 comments)

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  •  No reason to assume chthonic deity (0+ / 0-)

    or anything else mystical, as gender-irregular pluralized words are all over Hebrew -- including the words for year, place, window, word, egg, wall, and pencil.

    •  I was kidding about chthonic. It's just a fun word (0+ / 0-)

      and rarely used.

      Hebrew school was so long ago that I have only vague memories, and it was years until I understood things like the dual (mishkafayim). How we ever navigated the verb system is beyond me. I of course hated every minute of it, but now that I want to read the OT in the original and can't, Hebrew school doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

      •  Oh man, the dual plural is TERRIBLE. (0+ / 0-)

        (and yes, chthonic is a fun word.  :D)

        •  It was the concept of the dual. The teacher did (0+ / 0-)

          not explain (that I can recall) that it was used for things that occur in pairs. But now, it's the Piel and Hifil and other conjugational niceties that are daunting. Plus the non-Westernness of the language itself.

          •  Yeah, the non-Westernness doesn't help. (0+ / 0-)

            No roots in Latin!

            I wish sometimes that English had constructions like the Piel and Hifil, and especially the Nifal.  We have to go through some ridiculous verbal contortions to express those concepts sometimes.

            •  Perhaps...but English is so much simpler than (0+ / 0-)

              about any other language I can name. Sis took French, Spanish, and German in high school and says Spanish is easier than French, but we agree that German is a step above, as it has 3 genders and declension. Russian adds 2 more cases and a complicated verb system, but is a Western language withal. I can only imagine the complexities of Korean or Turkish or Gilbertese.

              Which is why I've never understood why non-native speakers have so much trouble with English. It has no gender (calling a ship "she" doesn't count), a vestigial subjunctive, and an object case that covers accusative and dative. OK, TV writers seem determined to abuse the object case: "I was given the gun." "By who?" but you get my drift. And every noun in English, alas, can be verbed. But really--what is the all-fired difficulty?

              •  The difficulty is the unfamiliarity (0+ / 0-)

                and the inconsistency, just like learning any other organic language.

                •  I dunno, Even though "set" supposedly has 40 (0+ / 0-)

                  recognized uses, I maintain our grammar is considerably simpler than most others. We don't have at least 2 verbs for every action, as in Russian, and unlike Korean, we don't have to consider the seniority and social standing of whoever we're addressing. We don't have things like quantifiers, e.g. when I speak of a spear, I must include the quantifier for pointy things. Etc., etc., etc. Simplicity!

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