Why didn't they create a simpler nikkud for Modern Hebrew?

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Why didn't they create a simpler nikkud for Modern Hebrew?

Postby IpseDixit » 2017-09-15, 9:04

If I'm correct, the different nikkud signs reflect the phonology of Biblical Hebrew where vowel length was phonemic (and maybe there were also a few more vowels?), but since this is no longer the case in Modern Hebrew, why wasn't a simpler nikkud system created? For example, why do we still have to have 4 symbols for [a]?

Ok, I guess one could say a similar thing for some letters of the alphabet, e.g: why do we still have ayn? But the nikkud is supposed to help you with learning how to vocalize words, so why make it unnecessarily complicated? And do native speakers even know which is the right nikkud for any word? (yeah, I know it's usually not used but I was wondering, if a native speaker wanted to, would they be able to write words with the right nikkud?)

Or maybe I've been wrong all this time and all the different sings do actually have some usefulness in Modern Hebrew too?

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Re: Why didn't they create a simpler nikkud for Modern Hebrew?

Postby księżycowy » 2017-09-15, 15:54

To what purpose? Dictionaries or learner materials or something?

I can't speak to this as an expert, but I fail to see 4 seperate niqqud for 'a'. There's qamets and patah (depending on the syllable structure).
Last edited by księżycowy on 2017-09-15, 16:02, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why didn't they create a simpler nikkud for Modern Hebrew?

Postby IpseDixit » 2017-09-15, 16:01

księżycowy wrote:To what purpose? Seeing as Modern Hebrew doesn't usually use niqqud....


For learners (especially considering how important Jewish immigration is for Israel), for kids, and to have a more convenient way of writing vowels just in case they needed to for some reason.

księżycowy wrote:I can't speak to this as an expert, but I fail to see 4 seperate niqqud for 'a'. There's qamets and patah (depending on the syllable structure).


But sometimes they're preceded by two vertical dots.

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Re: Why didn't they create a simpler nikkud for Modern Hebrew?

Postby Drink » 2017-09-15, 16:45

First of all, there are not four symbols for /a/. There is qamatz, and there is patach, and there is chataf-patach. What you may have thought was the fourth one, the chataf-qamatz, is actually not /a/, but /o/. But don't worry, you're not the first person to make that mistake. In fact many Israelis probably think that chataf-qamatz is /a/.

Second of all, most Israelis, when they use niqqud, do use it in a much simpler way than the "technically correct" way. For example, most Israelis don't know the difference between qamatz and patach and between segol and tzere. They simply recognize them as /a/ and /e/, respectively. And if they need to write them, they often use them interchangeably and not according the "technically correct" rules.

Third of all, learning the proper niqqud is very useful for learning the grammar of the language. In fact, it would be much more difficult to describe the grammar of Modern Hebrew if there were only one vowel sign for each of /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, and /u/. It's possible of course, but I think the proper niqqud makes it much clearer. And if you're reading text with proper niqqud, it will often make it easier to tell when a word is a verb or a noun, and where the stress is (because stress is rarely marked even when the text is vocalized).

Additionally, since you mentioned the letter ayin, in a language in which vowels are not written, having more consonant letters actually helps you tell words apart. For example, you know that קורא is /ko're/ while קורע is /ko're.a/ and that יעבדו /ja.av'du/ while יאבדו is /jov'du/.
Last edited by Drink on 2017-09-15, 16:55, edited 1 time in total.
שתה וגם גמליך אשקה

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Re: Why didn't they create a simpler nikkud for Modern Hebrew?

Postby księżycowy » 2017-09-15, 16:50

Vertical dots?

Oh, the schwa? It's a compound niqqud made up of the schwa marking and the main niqqud. I guess you could say that there are four then.

Personally, as far as reading it in Modern Hebrew pronunciation (which is basically what I use for Biblical), I don't find it so hard to read. It is largely "archaic" ("historical"), but it's kind of like complaining about French spelling (for example) to me. I don't see that much of a steep learning curve to nessessite simplifying the niqqud. And it helps with historical pronunciations for those of us who learn/work with earlier forms of the language. Not that this would do anything for people only interested in the Modern language.

Idk, I guess it would be fine to write an 'a' for example with just a qamets and/or patah, but I don't see that much of a gain personally.

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Re: Why didn't they create a simpler nikkud for Modern Hebrew?

Postby caleteu » 2017-09-16, 19:11

I would be happy if they would use the niqqud!!!!
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Re: Why didn't they create a simpler nikkud for Modern Hebrew?

Postby księżycowy » 2017-09-17, 0:00

That's one thing I'm interested to see with my own studies, how much of a hassle it will be to learn Modern Hebrew verses Biblical Hebrew with regards to the way it's normally written. I wonder if I'll have trouble without the niqqud.

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Re: Why didn't they create a simpler nikkud for Modern Hebrew?

Postby caleteu » 2017-09-17, 5:24

księżycowy wrote:That's one thing I'm interested to see with my own studies, how much of a hassle it will be to learn Modern Hebrew verses Biblical Hebrew with regards to the way it's normally written. I wonder if I'll have trouble without the niqqud.

You do get used to it, but it does take longer to look words up in the dictionary.
But while we're complaining, it would be nice if they would either vocalise proper nouns or at least create some capital letters. I just about had fits trying to translate a sentence with three words that neither Alcalay, Reverso or Morfix could identify. Since it had something to do with pogroms I looked that up and discovered that all three of them were Russian names. sigh

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Re: Why didn't they create a simpler nikkud for Modern Hebrew?

Postby Lemanensis » 2017-09-21, 18:55

caleteu wrote:But while we're complaining, it would be nice if they would either vocalise proper nouns or at least create some capital letters. I just about had fits trying to translate a sentence with three words that neither Alcalay, Reverso or Morfix could identify. Since it had something to do with pogroms I looked that up and discovered that all three of them were Russian names. sigh


That's one good thing about Google Translate - it will mostly identify names properly. And you can type them in directly regardless of your keyboard!
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http://www.hebrew.ecott.ch <= catalogue of resources for learning Modern Hebrew

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Re: Why didn't they create a simpler nikkud for Modern Hebrew?

Postby caleteu » 2017-09-22, 16:05

Lemanensis wrote:
caleteu wrote:But while we're complaining, it would be nice if they would either vocalise proper nouns or at least create some capital letters. I just about had fits trying to translate a sentence with three words that neither Alcalay, Reverso or Morfix could identify. Since it had something to do with pogroms I looked that up and discovered that all three of them were Russian names. sigh


That's one good thing about Google Translate - it will mostly identify names properly. And you can type them in directly regardless of your keyboard!

Thank you!!! I am familiar with Morfix and Reverso, but they don't do names.


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