Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ravens and Arabians: Hebrew with and without points in English

I came across a fascinating explanation of Hebrew as an unvoweled language and the fucntion of the vowel points (nekkudot). Typically one sees an example like this: typclly n ss n xmpl lk ths.

While helpful, it doesn't really show what Hebrew is like.

This interesting book, The Parchments of the Faith by George Edmands Merrill published in 1894 by the American Baptist Publication Society, does the best job I've ever seen of it because it combined words in English as they would be in Hebrew ("and the ravens" are three words in English, but just one, והערבים, in Hebrew--"nd th rvns" less accurately shows what Hebrew is like than "ndthrvns"). In addition, the vowel letters are formatted the way nekkudot are, dotting the consonants.

Last but not least, the specific example, wherein it is pointed out that והארבים could read ve-ha-arabim, "and the Arabians," as well as ve-ha-orvim, "and the ravens" is quite interesting--but note: although its a great example which shows the usefulness of nekkudot, it is in fact misleading, as "and the Arabians" would be spelled והערבים and not והארבים. D'oh!


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