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Hebrew Grammar (Prefixes, Suffixes), etc. [Jun. 11th, 2009|04:10 am]


What does ת at the beginning of a word do to it? Here is a sentence from a translated Britney Spears song (don't laugh).

תגידו מה שאתם רוצים עליי
in the original English it is "say what you want about me"

For the life of me, I can't figure out why they put a tav there, or what it means. Wouldn't you use an imperative in this instance?

I know a ת at the end of the word makes it past tense, for example אימא לי מותת (which is unfortunately true). What about at the beginning?

Anyone have an exhaustive book on this? I love grammar and I have a knack for memorising rules and such...

P.S., the video with Hebrew subtitles can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QlE5ydSVbs

(and I would also LOVE if anyone knew where 311 translations were)

From: ext_2514
2009-06-11 10:25 am (UTC)
this is imperative/future tense. ת at the beginning and ו at the end indicate 2nd person plural (you) both male and female. the infinitive is להגיד.
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[User Picture]From: queen_evie
2009-06-11 12:18 pm (UTC)
It's a direction, isn't it?
is an instruction - the imperative. Say what you want. That's why there's a tav, although I don't think tav goes on all imperatives; it probably has to do with the verb group and conjugation.

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From: ext_2514
2009-06-11 01:20 pm (UTC)
one could always say: shev bevakasha, which would be polite enough
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[User Picture]From: real_skeptic
2009-06-11 02:25 pm (UTC)
No, there is only one imperative in Hebrew, and that's the Tsivuy you mentioned. I'm surprised to see three people here claim that תגידו is an imperative form. It isn't - it's just a very, very common mistake. It's the future tense - and whoever translated it just wanted to sound slangy or simply made the - again, very common - mistake of confusing imperative with future.

I think the mistake stems from the fact that in negative form, the future form is used for imperative as well:

Positive imperative: הגידו
Negative imperative: אל תגידו

Positive imperative: היכנס ("Enter" - and not כנס or תיכנס)
Negative imperative: אל תיכנס
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[User Picture]From: aadroma
2009-06-11 03:09 pm (UTC)
It IS, technically, the future, but it's a fact that commands are commonly both using the "regular" imperative AND in the future, for both positive and negative commands.

There doesn't seem to be any real rhyme and reason, but certain verbs use the future tense far more frequently than the actual imperative when giving commands. I've asked native Israeli speakers and they can't tell me why they opt for one or another.

The translation seems fairly natural to me. :: shrug ::
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[User Picture]From: real_skeptic
2009-06-11 04:09 pm (UTC)
As I said, it's a very common mistake. Most Israelis wouldn't know the difference because they hear this mistake from parents and neighbors. The reason they can't say when one is used over the other is that they are not aware that this is a mistake. Most Israelis would also use כנס for "Enter", even though it's obviously the imperative for לכנס, not להיכנס. You can see it even in advertisement sometimes.

So if you follow the modern linguist notion that common mistakes are in fact the new standard, you may be right. But in classical Hebrew grammar as I was taught it in school, this is incorrect usage. If you read respectable newspapers, or books and articles that have had a grammatical editor go through them, the imperative would never be the future tense.

See, for example, the second comment in this column in Ha'aretz Online. This was a particularly embarassing incident because teachers, alas, should know better.
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[User Picture]From: aadroma
2009-06-11 05:56 pm (UTC)
I actually do follow the modern linguist mindset -- there's a difference between set rules and how people actually speak. Not acknowledging very common usages is a surefire way to never become fluent in a language. A friend of mine insisted on not learning anything that would be seen as "swearing" in Russian and, because of it, couldn't understand a good chunk of modern Russian speech. It may not be pretty or correct, but it's there and won't go away any time soon.
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[User Picture]From: real_skeptic
2009-06-11 06:01 pm (UTC)
From a pragmatic point of view, of course that's true. I study Japanese myself, and the book I use keeps pointing out colloquial usages. Other sources point out common grammar mistakes etc.

My point is that when you learn them, you should learn that they are wrong, or that they are slang. I regard translating a song in such a way nothing short of embarrassing - but I do expect people to understand what was supposed to be meant there, just like I understand it.
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[User Picture]From: aadroma
2009-06-11 09:13 pm (UTC)
I won't disagree -- to know what is considered correct is certainly important.

But to also know how frequently something is "correct" and what is actually used is just as important. There are a few English constructions that, while grammatically correct, sound stilted and awkward in ANY kind of spoken discourse and, outside of writing essays, are never actually used, and in several other languages this is true (certainly in Japanese!).
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