Thursday, April 17, 2008
Hebrew Is Gobbly Gook!
Interesting Article Here!
This article that was on the Jerusalem Post website a few days ago is actually an answer to a question that I've had for a few years now. Considering that I am working with great effort on learning the Hebrew language, sometimes I look at its non-Indo European character set and I think, "Is this gobbly gook to anyone else?" I mean, do Israelis look at Hebrew text and see it like I see English -- as plain as my image in a mirror, as distinct as red and blue and green, as natural as the glare of a summer sun?
Hebrew University did a study whereby they found that slightly jumbled words are more recognizable in English, and other Indo-European languages, than they are in Hebrew. For instance, "tutrle" and "mcie" are easier for English speakers to reorganize, instantly, into turtle and mice than their Hebrew equivalents would be.
This is because Hebrew is a root-based language. The Hebrew root is essentially a string of a few letters which have a definitive meaning, but can be used in tons of different forms (from verbs to nouns to adjectives) to carry on the meaning in a different context. You can't change them up.
In English, however, we would just have a totally different word with no connection between them. The best way to characterize the difference between Hebrew and English is that whereby English has thousands of more, distinct words, Hebrew is based more on context, structure, and these precious roots. Distinct words versus distinct word forms.
The roots can make for some really cool trivia. L'hosif, Yosef, tosefet - never mind.
Anyway, this makes me feel great! I kept wondering why my very smart teacher couldn't recognize a word in my homework because two letters were backwards. So those native Hebrew speakers actually don't have that instinctive recognition of Hebrew either! There's hope yet.
(If anyone wants to hear more about how AWESOME Hebrew is, comment on this post).