Why some people hate Hebrew

Aramaic Paradigms

The above is a picture of the paradigms I am supposed to have memorized by Monday for the midterm. Now, these are Aramaic paradigms…for the strong verb, as opposed to Hebrew. 26 of them, in total. In Greek II, I’m only required to know around 10. I am finally realizing how utterly frustrated people become when learning Hebrew. There is no reason in heaven or on earth to require the memorization of all of these paradigms. Dr. Stuart, my Aramaic prof, feels that if you don’t know the paradigms you’ll never be able to score above a C+ in a language course. Odd, considering I managed an A last semester in Intermediate Hebrew Grammar with him, but that’s besides the point.

Relatedly, many of you will remember how I was panicking about Aramaic before. That is no longer the case, as I’ve taken Eric’s advice. I’m feeling more confident every day with vocab and parsing. The paradigms still worry me, and I know that’s where I’m going to lose a ton of points, but I’m hoping he gives us the standard Pe’al and Pa’el paradigms, as opposed to the others, which I don’t know nearly as well (I can parse any verb in those other stems, mind you, I just can’t reproduce the paradigm). Mandy and I have decided that an Aramaic version of Bonnie is needed.

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4 responses to “Why some people hate Hebrew

  1. Interesting statement by your professor. I took Aramaic last semester and we didn’t even go over the paradigms in class. The first lecture was an introduction to Aramaic. At the end of the first class the professor gave us the assignment: carefully read Rosenthal’s grammar in its completion and translate Ezra 4.8-24 for next week, parsing all the verbs and explaining all the di clauses.

    I asked, “Aren’t we going to actually learn Aramaic first?” to which he replied, “You learn by doing.”

    He was right. I aced the final, which was translating 5 randomly selected verses, parsing the verbs, and doing a clause analysis (which he is working on for LOGOS and Accordance, to be released later this year).

    He never asked us to reproduce a paradigm or even to learn them. It was more important to learn the language in the context of its usage. I found that very helpful.

  2. Art, we are doing something similar. We have Johns’ grammar, I’ve nothing to compare it to, so I don’t know how good it is. But the class to date has basically been use translating his exercises and some Biblical passages and then reading our translation in class. I actually think the idea of learning by doing has merit, though it can be difficult. What I don’t like with the way we’re doing it is its a sort of half and half thing. Dr. Stuart isn’t really teaching Aramaic, but at the same time he’s not allowing us to learn on our own, because he is still requiring paradigms.

    Even with this though, I feel like I’m making progress with the language. Hopefully this will give me a decent base from which to further my knowledge of Aramaic.

  3. The structure of the class seems completely different from the course I took (that isn’t a judgmental statement, just observational).

    The course I took as a Ph.D. seminar that I had to get special permission to take, so that might explain some of the differences. There were only 5 students in my class, all of whom, besides me, were Ph.D. students. That’s probably why my professor structured the learning style to be more “do-it-yourself.”

    Are you going to be getting into the Targums? We went through some sections of Pseduo-Jonathan. It was fun.

  4. Art, yeah–there are probably 30+ students in the course, so it’s obviously significantly different. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, but I think the attempt to steer a course between a standard language course, and a more do-it-yourself seminar style isn’t really working.

    At the end of the course we’ll get into one of the Elephantine Papyri, and also, I think, we’ll be translating Genesis 1 from Targum Onkelos.

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