Two astronomers. Separated by only 22 degrees, 58 minutes of latitude, 33 degrees, 29 minutes of longitude, yet seemingly worlds apart. Their common goal: figure out the very nature of the Universe and its womenfolk.

Monday, March 19, 2007

No being in Ivrit

After weeks of being confounded with the simplicity of hebrew grammar, I am starting to embrace it. I say confounded because my german-italian-english sensibillity can be hard to change. For example, there is no verb for to be in Hebrew. I find this lack of the most basic verb slightly puzzling (how is Heiddiger translated? what about DesCartes "I Think Therefore I Am"?). Added to the notable absence of the words am, are, is, be, been, being is the lack of the indirect article "a" (the word "the" does exist). An example using "aba" and "ima" (father and mother) will elucidate the confusion caused:

"Daniel is a father" is translated as "Daniel aba" (direct translation: "Daniel Father")
"Nina is a mother" is translated as "Nina ima" (direct translation: "Nina Mother")

which means (I think)
"Nina and Daniel are a mother and a father" is "Nina ve Daniel ima ve aba". (direct translation: "Nina and Daniel mother and father).
The wierdest feature of the lack of the verb to be is that one cannot construct a sentence which means precisely: "I am".

Another thing thats simply bizarre about hebrew is that the lack of vowels means that two consonants next to eachother may be a word. For example: GG (pronounced "gag", means roof), DD (pronounced "dod", means loved one), or DG (pronounced "dag", means fish). All this is to show the simplicity of a five thousand year old language. Who needs the imperfect past third person passive indirect article? It does make it hard to construct a sentence based on enlgish formulations.


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