Sunday, October 11, 2009
Out of sight and out of mind
Time for an interdisciplinary tidbit.
I read about a study an Israeli scientist did with Finnish, American, and Israeli children recently. It dealt with the way language affects thought.
In Hebrew, you find gender in every noun, every adjective, and almost every verb. In English we have a few nouns with obvious gender endings, but it usually only shows up in pronouns. In Finnish (which I know less about), there is no gender for pronouns, and seldom for nouns. The study found that Israeli children universally come to a realisation of gender identity before Americans and Finns. Americans usually figure it out before Finns, but the correlation is not as strong.
That is totally irrelevant to this website. Here's what isn't:
In Hebrew there is one form of past tense. On occasion, they will use a periphrastic construction when they want to emphasise process (ie: 'I went' as opposed to 'I was going'), but this is more a part of the literary idiom, and is somewhat rare in everyday speech. In English, we have about five or six nuances of past tense that are used in every day speech (I went, I have gone, I had gone, I was going, I have been going, I had been going).
The same study found that Israeli tots have much more difficulty remembering chronology, even to the extent that they don't recall very well if something happened yesterday or the day before, or last week.
If you can't figure out what this has to do with our Jewish histories recorded in the Bible, think harder.