Beyond the grammar basics
I’ve been having an interesting conversation (it starts in post 6, and you don’t have to register/log in to read the thread) on a relatively subtle (but still potentially reasonably common) structure in Hebrew that I can’t find specifically addressed in any of the three grammars DH and I have looked up today, either for Biblical or Modern Hebrew. (We read and discuss both, although we only speak the modern variety.)
I’ve asked some other native speaker friends (apparently this is one of those issues of prescriptive preference versus actual practice) and plan to email my most recent teacher for her opinion. I’ve been overthinking the issue, and can’t really remember at this point either what I would naturally say, or may have been taught to say (although I’m still not convinced this was ever specifically addressed). It sounds like either way would likely be acceptable for me to use, as someone with enough of an accent that I’m obviously not a native speaker. (That’s something to work on, but not right now.) The question is, do I want to follow the prescriptive preference, or the naturally practised form of the construction? Personally I’d like to sound educated, but not archaic, and most of all, comfortable and fluent in the language. I will, therefore, be investigating further, but also trying not to overthink things when I need to use the construction.
This isn’t the only instance of variations in grammar and register I’ve come across in Hebrew. The present tense of the verb to sleep, for instance, has an older (but widely used) irregular form that is regularised by many speakers. While I normally use the ‘correct’ form, I’ve been known to use the newer form when it was used first to me by someone offering to help (with my baby). There’s no point sounding snobby!
Some questions for you my blog-readers:
- How do you investigate grammatical structures not covered by your preferred textbook or grammar?
- Do you choose to use the ‘preferred’ form, or the more widely used form, in your second and further languages, or do you try to use both in different contexts?
I haven’t gone into the specifics of the question I’m dealing with here, because I’m more interested in the general question, for the sake of this blog. If you have comments either way, I’d be delighted to hear them.
- Fluency versus Erudition (kaetslanguages.wordpress.com)
- How do you approach grammar? (kaetslanguages.wordpress.com)
- I Am Not the Grammar Police (limeokapi.wordpress.com)
- Grammar! (lulzyreviews.wordpress.com)
- Spoken English Grammar (easysimpleenglish.wordpress.com)
- Discover Interview: The Radical Linguist Noam Chomsky (discovermagazine.com)
- 5 English Speaking Rules (pazzadventures.wordpress.com)