Monday, February 18, 2008

Reflections on Hebrew Grammar I

Reflecting on language learning is a little more difficult than for other modules! The module last semester was taught by Andrew Matthews, who hails from the other side of the Atlantic and is studying a PhD at HTC, reading in Ecclesiastes. The usual tutor, Dr Jamie Grant was on a sabbatical, writing the second volume of the NIVAC on Psalms. So, what things stood out from this module? Hmmm, let me see....
  • Hebrew goes the other way. This is fairly easily spotted (!) but leads to some difficulties. Like, when you're translating from Hebrew to English, you start writing your answer at the left margin; from English to Hebrew, you start writing your answer at the right margin. But, do you right the exercise number in the left margin or right margin? It can get a little confusing and this is before you even start any proper learning. You know your brain's in a mess when you try to read English the other way (a bit like when you start writing alpha's instead of a's after doing Greek).

  • Hebrew is a little less connected to English than Greek. Throne...thronos...kise', for example. It's often pointed out that the Greek learning curve starts shallower and steepens up as you go on, whilst the Hebrew learning curve starts steeper and eases as you go on. That seems about right and probably explains why, with Greek Grammar II and Hebrew Grammar I running concurrently, last semester was pretty tough!

  • On the Grammar itself, I've already posted some thoughts on Ross' Introducing Biblical Hebrew along with pointers to resources that might help if you're using Ross.