4 August 2016
In this article, we continue explaining grammatical structures commonly used in formal written Hebrew, taking the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel as an example.
You can see part 1 here.
The second paragraph reads:
Below we will take it apart word by word.
As a general rule, the huf'al forms can be recognized in vowelless text as by their prefix (in this case, ה he and ו vav), followed by the three radicals (or two, in case if the verb is defective). The prefix letter can be ה he for past-tense forms, א/י/ת/נ (depending on the person and gender) for future-tense forms, and מ mem for present-tense forms and participles. Note that many adjectives and nouns are also formed following the huf'al participle model, like מורכב "complex, complicated", מוכן "ready", מובן "meaning, sense".
The smichut construction בְכֹחַ הַזְּרוֹעַ be-choach ha-zroa (literally: "by the force of arm") can be translated as an adverb: "forcibly". Since Hebrew lacks a universal way of adverb formation, nouns and noun phrases, such as this one, are often used in the same role in which adverbs are used in English.
אֱמוּנִים emunim "fidelity, allegiance" (cf. נֶאֱמָן ne'eman "loyal, faithful" and לְהַאֲמִין leha'amin "to believe") is an example of an abstract noun formed as a plural. Other abstract nouns formed as plurals include, for example, נְעוּרִים ne'urim "youth", בְּתוּלִים betulim "virginity" and חַיִּים chayim "life". Note also that ארצות is vocalized with patach and then shva and pronounced artzot, since it is in construct state: אַרְצוֹת פִּזוּרָיו artzot pizurav "countries of its dispersion". This contrasts with אֲרָצוֹת aratzot in absolute state, for example: אֲרָצוֹת אֲחֵרוֹת aratzot acherot "other countries".
This seems straightforward. Note that the verb לַחְדֹּל ~ לחדול lachdol "to cease, to stop" is used with the preposition מִן min, or מִ־ mi-: literally "ceased from something", "stopped from doing something".
This also applies in the case when לַחְדֹּל ~ לחדול lachdol is followed by an infinitive of the verb, as in Shoshana Damari's song: הַיָּם לֹא יֶחְדַּל מִלִּנְהֹם ha-yam lo yechdal mi-linhom "the sea does not (literally: will not) stop roaring (literally: from roaring)". Similar usage of verbs can be found in European languages as well, e. g. French: cesser de faire quelque-chose.
בְּתוֹכָהּ be-tocha(h) "inside it [her]" is a form of the word תָּוֶךְ ~ תווך tavech "centre, interior, the inside". This word, in particular its construct state form תּוֹךְ toch and forms with pronominal endings תּוֹכִי tochi, תּוֹכְךָ tochecha, תּוֹכֵךְ tochech, תּוֹכִוֹ tocho etc., can be used to translate the preposition "inside" and related words, example:
חֵרוּתוֹ הַמְּדִינִ cheruto ha-medinit "its political freedom", "its sovereign independence" is, like in the previous part, an example of a noun (חֵרוּת cherut "freedom") which is definite due to a pronominal ending ("his [its] freedom"), and must be thus followed by a definite adjective – i. e., the adjective מְדִינִי must be preceded by the article.
The rest of the sentence seems straightforward. We will continue next time!
On the site of the Knesset, you can not only find the full text of the declaration, but also listen to the recording of the declaration read aloud by David Ben-Gurion, one of the founders and the first prime minister of the State of Israel.
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