501 Hebrew Verbs.501 HEBREW VERBS. By Shmuel Bolozky. Pp. xvii + 910. Hauppage, NY: Barron's, 1996. Paper, $12.95.
Few Hebrew teaching resources have been so overdue and are so welcome as Shmuel Bolozky's edition of Barron's 501 Hebrew Verbs. The student's first impression of this revamped, double-the-size version of Barron's 201 Hebrew Verbs may, admittedly, be one of mild panic. The thought that it takes a 900-page tome to master the inflection of the modem Hebrew verb is not a reassuring one. Teachers would thus be well advised to impress on their classes that this is above all a work of reference--and an invaluable one--for checking the inflection of any common verb and that the rules of thumb for arriving at these inflections are for the most part fairly simple and available in any up-to-date Hebrew grammar.
In the course of time, the great Hebrew public has simplified many things: possessive inflections in the noun, the tense and aspect system, and object suffixes in the verb, to name just a few. But the verbal inflections and the system of binyanim are as solid a barrier as ever, the great Semitic feature on the landscape for all who might be misled by talk that Hebrew is really a European language. It is deplorable, then, that we have had to make do for so long with hopelessly outdated verb tables, dictionaries that tell just a fraction of the truth, and grammars that cannot distinguish biblical Hebrew from the contemporary idiom. Bolozky, one of Israel's most distinguished analysts of the verb, a theoretical phonologist pho·nol·o·gy
n. pl. pho·nol·o·gies
1. The study of speech sounds in language or a language with reference to their distribution and patterning and to tacit rules governing pronunciation.
2. , and an experienced teacher of Hebrew at the University of Massachusetts The system includes UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth (affiliated with Cape Cod Community College), UMass Lowell, and the UMass Medical School. It also has an online school called UMassOnline. , was the ideal person to create this new edition for Barron's, bringing our verb tables up-to-date and making some sense of them.
The book presents full inflections for hundreds of frequently used verbs, grouped by root. Besides past, present, future, infinitive infinitive: see mood; tense. , infinitive absolute, and imperative, it lists any action nominals (gerunds), passive participles, and governed prepositions. For completeness' sake, any other verbs derived from these roots From These Roots was an American soap opera which ran from 1958 to 1961. It was created and written by Frank Provo and John Pickard. The show was seen on NBC, and was the first successful soap opera vehicle for Ann Flood who would later become well-known for, and spend the better are briefly noted, however uncommon, indicating whether they are obsolete and to which historical period they belong. Entries are arranged clearly and attractively. To allow the book to function as a kind of learner's dictionary of verbs, Bolozky translates each verb, gives a few Hebrew sentences to illustrate how it is used, and lists anything from a handful to a long list of special expressions featuring the verb. Equally helpful, the book ends with three indices: English-Hebrew verbs, Hebrew-English verbs entered according to stem (e.g., nif'al verbs under nun), and Hebrew-English roots. All the inflections are given in plene spelling with full nikkud, in a large, clear font.
There is a thirteen-page introduction explaining the workings of the system of roots and binyanim and illustrating how the book is organized. It is a pleasure (and, I dare say, a shock to many Ivrit teachers) to find the binyanim explained realistically: Aside from pu'al and huf'al being the passive of pi'el and hif'il, the semantic relations between binyanim involve "little regularity" (p. xii) except among particularly common or recently coined verbs. "Sweeping semantic generalizations about the total verb system would be inappropriate" (p. xv). Thus pa'al covers "a wide semantic array." Nif'al and hitpa'el verbs that do relate to another verb in the system are usually reflexive, inchoative/resultative, passive, or reciprocal/mutual. Indeed, "whenever the focus is on the recipient of the action, or the entity undergoing the action/change, forms tend to be realized either in hitpa'el or nif'al," whereas verbs focusing on a deliberate agent "tend to be" pi'el or hifil, with the latter "often" preferred for causative actions.
How nice if this message were to filter down into the classroom. I fear, however, that the introduction is for the most part too academic ("discontinuous discontinuous /dis·con·tin·u·ous/ (dis?kon-tin´u-us)
1. interrupted; intermittent; marked by breaks.
2. discrete; separate.
3. lacking logical order or coherence. canonical pattern," "a syllable-final [n.bar] that assimilates") for students and even for many teachers. I also waited in vain for the author to nail the widespread misconception that roots have clear meanings.
It was wise of Bolozky to base the choice of verbs on frequency, using a corpus supplied by the Hebrew Language Instruction Unit of Tel-Aviv University. However, just in case teachers are tempted to take these as the 501 commonest roots in modern Hebrew, it is not made clear (p. v) whether this is a corpus of recorded as well as written Hebrew, nor indeed what was the percentage of literary, technical, journalistic, and informal text. Common colloquial col·lo·qui·al
1. Characteristic of or appropriate to the spoken language or to writing that seeks the effect of speech; informal.
2. Relating to conversation; conversational. verbs not listed include [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII ASCII or American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a set of codes used to represent letters, numbers, a few symbols, and control characters. Originally designed for teletype operations, it has found wide application in computers. .] and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.].
The entries themselves sweep away a few cobwebs. The feminine plural future forms ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], etc.) are labeled "less common" and relegated to a footnote (though Bolozky might more boldly have stated that these are now banished from casual usage, save for special effects). Shemartem forms are throughout listed as colloquial (here again, I would more boldly have labeled the shemartem form "very formal"). The colloquial future and infinitive of verbs of the type [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] is correctly footnoted as having f rather than p. The future of lamed-gutturals such as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] is given with both -a and -ea as final vowel and the colloquial past tense in -ea is noted. Pedants may ask why Bolozky has not gone the whole way and listed mavin, mekir, aavod, and other such common colloquialisms--and unfortunately Bolozky seems nowhere to have argued his socio-linguistic position on what is included in his book--but although I know of no major survey on this issue, my impression is that mavin, mekir, and aavod are more widely stigmatized than litfos and lidfok.
It is only the treatment of suppletives that I find puzzling. Taking two of present-day Hebrew's most notorious verbs, the past tense of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] is given not as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] but as obsolescent [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], while the present tense of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] is given not as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (syntactically a verb in all respects) but as rare [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]--a cobweb (1) A Web page that has not been updated in a long time.
(2) A Web page that is rarely downloaded because the references to it are obscure or the subject is simply uninteresting. cluster that the intrepid cleaner somehow missed. Similarly, past tense yashen should be labeled "formal," the unmarked past 3rd person of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] should be given as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], and the colloquial present of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.].
These small matters aside, Bolozky has given us a major resource for the teaching of Israeli Hebrew as a contemporary language.
Miscellaneous: Mishqal (p. iv) in its grammatical sense meant not "metrical met·ri·cal
1. Of, relating to, or composed in poetic meter: metrical verse; five metrical units in a line.
2. Of or relating to measurement. pattern" but "template, form" (see Leo Leo, in astronomy
Leo [Lat.,=the lion], northern constellation lying S of Ursa Major and on the ecliptic (apparent path of the sun through the heavens) between Cancer and Virgo; it is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Prijs, Die grammatikalische Terminologie des Abraham des Abraham Ibn Esra [Hildesheim, 1987]). Deviant roots (p. v) are not [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] but [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]. The mark of a reciprocal (p. xiii) is surely that it can also be used as such in the plural, thus [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]= [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], which is not the case with [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], "accompany."
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