Saturday, June 17, 2006

Sheva, Dagesh, Begadkefat - Oh My

Teaching myself Biblical Hebrew is fun, but more difficult than any other languages I've dabbled in. And I think I've isolated the reason: writing, translating, and reading Tiberian Hebrew is more like a pictographic exercise than something like Spanish or Greek because it doesn't follow Roman forms (which I'm most familiar with as an English speaker) and also because it has no vowels.

Instead of reading what I consider to be a letter, when I look at a Hebrew consonant, my brain sees a picture. Vowel signs might as well be the equivalent of Braille. Memorizing vocab is difficult in and of itself, but now I'm dealing with pictographic combinations that will be extremely hard to reproduce in written form with accuracy. I depend quite heavily on phonetics in order to read and write. Perhaps there's another way, but it's the only way I know.

I remember the day I dreamed in Spanish... That was a great day. It meant the language was no longer a stranger to me. What would the equivalent be for Hebrew? I'll know it when it comes. But oh, God, that day seems far away.


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