Monday, March 30, 2009

Mysteries of the Hebrew language

There will be a short delay while I work out some technical difficulties regarding some audio examples of "interesting" Hebrew. (Those fluent in Hebrew will probably roll their eyes, reading this post. But I never got past Intermediate in Ulpan, so some Hebrew still sounds odd to me.)

On the one hand, the link to Mark/PT's band website's Music page makes the Internet on my home computer freeze. So I have to set up the link to his wonderful "Ki V'Simchah" at the office. Done--here's the music link.

On the other hand, those who have the same problem that we have at home--that Mark's Music page makes our Internet crash--can listen to the same music here, where I choreographed my first dance to it, but I'll have to set up that link at home, because my office's 'Net Nannies block YouTube. Done--here's the dance link. (Hmm, I should have bent my arms at the elbow--I'm not crazy about the straight-armed look.)

So what does Mark's "Ki V'Simchah" have to do with "interesting" Hebrew?

"Ki v'simchah teitzeiyun,
U-v'shalom tuvalun . . ." (Yishaya/Isaiah 55:12)

Teitzeiyun? Tuvalun?

What the heck tense is that?

Here's one from another song by Mark, "Ma Yakar" (from his "Rock of Sages" album, available here and on iTunes):

"Ma yakar chasdecha, Elokim
u-v'nei Adam b'tzeil k'nafecha yechesayun
Yirviyun mi-deshen beitecha
v'nachal adanecha tashkeim . . . "

(That's from Psalm 36, verses 8-11, recited right after putting on a tallit.)

Yechesayun? How do we get from yechese (having to do with shelter or refuge, I think) to yechesayun? And yirviyun?

Then there's that line from Psalm 147, verse 20 (the last verse), " . . . u-mishpatim bal y'daum." Y'daum?

Here's a change of grammatical pace: Why does Psalm 148, verse 11 say "Malchei eretz v'chol l'umim, sarim v'chol shoftei aretz"? In both cases, it appears to me that the "s'michut" form (a type of possessive that creates an "of" between words) is being used. So why are there two different spellings? (Um, wild guess: "eretz" means earth, but "aretz" is a shortened form of "ha-aretz," the earth?)

Ah, the joys of being only partially fluent in Hebrew.


Blogger rivkayael said...

"aretz" is a pausal form that only occurs when the word appears at the end of a sentence/phrase. Eretz everywhere else. For example, "chayyai" (my life) is also vowelized differently in the middle and at the end of a sentence.

Mon Mar 30, 01:51:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Wow, I'd probably need a magnifying to spot a change in "chayyai." Could you give me an example, from the siddur (prayer book), Tefillim (Psalms), or Chumash (roughly, Bible) so that I can check it out? Just cite chapter and verse (and parsha/weekly reading or haftarah/"prophetic reading", if applicable), so I'll know where to look. Rav todot, many thanks!

Mon Mar 30, 06:48:00 PM 2009  
Blogger rivkayael said...

Psalm 31:11, standard form
Psalm 23: 6, pausal form (the yud has a kamatz, not a patach).

Tue Mar 31, 01:24:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Good heavens, that difference doesn't even change the pronunciation, if one speaks Hebrew with the S'fardi pronunciation. Could I bother you for a more obvious example, if you don't mind and if you can spare the time in between bouts of Pesach prep? Rav todot/many thanks!

Wed Apr 01, 08:52:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

the plural verbs with -un are an older, and therefore more "poetic", form

Sun Apr 05, 05:30:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Ah, nothing like getting the story straight from the grammar guy's and poet's mouth. :) Thanks.

Sun Apr 05, 08:21:00 PM 2009  
Blogger rivkayael said...

Steg--aramaicisms? Like "chayyun"?

Shira: kavdah (regular) Gen 18:20, 1 Sam 5:11, Isa 59:1
kavedah (pausal) Judges 20:34

kever (regular) Gen 23:4, 50:13
kaver (pausal) Gen 23:9, 23:20

Chag sameach!

Sun Apr 05, 11:40:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Hmm, "aramaicisms"? Sounds familiar, now that you mention it. Lots of Aramaic words have a nun at the end, where one would expect a mem.

Thanks for those references, RivkaYael. I'll check them during chol ha-moed.

Pesach kasher v'sameach gam lach!

Wed Apr 08, 10:58:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

RivkaYael, I just checked your examples. Rav todot/many thanks! You certainly know your way around the Tanach (Bible)!

Sat Apr 11, 10:46:00 PM 2009  

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