As X as Y

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by trigel, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    What are the ways "as ADJECTIVE as NOUN" expressed in Hebrew? Google translate gives [ADJECTIVE] כמו [NOUN] but the problem is when you negate it, "לא X כמו Y", the meaning seems to change. Is there no way to specify whether something's "not as big as an elephant" (it could be big, but it's not as big as an elephant) or "not big like an elephant" (it's not big, unlike an elephant)?
  2. origumi Senior Member

    מהיר כברק
    איתן כסלע
    ערמומי כשועל

    You can prefix by אינו to negate.
  3. arielipi Senior Member

    1)לא איקס כמו וואי
    2)לא באיקס של וואי
    1 is for not as X as Y
    2 is for not X Y
  4. GeriReshef

    GeriReshef Senior Member

    The examples of origumi are tipical to the Bible language.
    In coloqial Hebrew the tendency is to say
    ראיתי איש גדול כמו פיל
    לא נכון, הוא אינו/לא גדול כמו פיל

    (כמו פיל = כְּפִיל)
  5. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    So just to be clear, how do you distinguish between:
    He is not as big as an elephant
    He is not big, like a mouse.
    He is not big like an elephant.
    1&3 are similar but 1 suggests that he is not exactly the same size, whereas 3 suggests that he is not big. 1 could mean that he is anywhere on the scale of size below the elephant, whereas 3 suggests that he is much lower on the scale.
  6. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    Is this correct, concerning my last post?
    1 הוא לא גדול כמו פיל
    2 הוא לא גדול, כמו עכבר
    3 הוא לא גדול כמו כן הוא פיל
    I have no idea really, but I didn't want to just bump the thread.
  7. hadronic Senior Member

    New York
    French - France
    I guess the context will discriminate between the two meanings... The context... Always.
  8. C_J Member

    Number 3 as you written it means "It is not big, additionally it is an elephant"

    In colloquial spoken Hebrew I would use these (note the changing stress):
    1. הוא לא גדול כמו פיל
    2. הוא לא גדול, הוא כמו עכבר (if you meant here that "X is as Y")
    3. הוא לא גדול,כמו פיל

    In general, arielipi's is right but it really depends on the context however, as other structures could be used (depending on the emphasis).
  9. SugoiNe

    SugoiNe New Member

    "הוא לא גדול, הוא כמו עכבר" clearly means "He's not big, he's like a mouse", and sounds extremely informal, or at least it does for me.
    I would suggest using a sentence like "הוא לא גדול, כמו עכבר" (He's not big, like a mouse) or "הוא לא גדול, בדיוק כמו עכבר" (He's not big, exactly like a mouse).
  10. C_J Member

    I agree, there are far better ways to phrase such comparatives.

    I'm just not sure what arielibre meant in his 2nd example. To me, his English example also sounds very informal, and that's what guided my translation (he didn't write "He's not big, just like a mouse [isn't]" so I understood it more like "He's not big, [he's more] like a mouse".
  11. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    The way I wrote my examples, the meaning can be a bit obscure. I did mean 'he is not big, like a mouse (isn't)'.
    The other two:
    He is not as big as an elephant. (But he is still big)
    He is not big like an elephant (is).

    Hopefully now that is clear, how would you distinguish between each nuance of meaning? (Provided the context doesn't make it clear, which it usually would)
  12. Tararam Senior Member

    Hard to convey the difference. We use intonation.
    הוא לא גדול כמו פיייייייל (emphasis on the pi sound) as if you're trying to say another sentence afterwards. = He isn't as big as an elephant..." (but he's still big)
    !הוא לא גדול כמו פיל (you say pil distinctively with an exclamation mark) = He isn't as big as an elephant (I don't agree that he's big)
  13. C_J Member

    He is not big, like a mouse (isn't) - הוא לא גדול, בדומה לעכבר / בדומה לעכבר, הוא לא גדול
    He is not as big as an elephant (but he is still big) - הוא לא גדול כמו פיל (אבל הוא עדיין גדול
    He is not big like an elephant (is) - הוא גדול, אבל לא כמו פיל / הוא לא גדול כמו פיל

    Since this is not as X as Y anymore it is possible to use other comparatives such as "bigger/smaller than".
    He is not big, like a mouse (isn't)> He isn't bigger than a mouse - הוא לא יותר גדול מעכבר, He is as small as a mouse - הוא קטן כמו עכבר
  14. Tararam Senior Member

    I agree. We usually say exactly what we mean. The best way to avoid ambiguity is to not evoke it.
    But I still stand behind my previous post regarding intonation.
  15. hadronic Senior Member

    New York
    French - France
    Are you suggesting that in English, we don't "say exactly what we mean" ?...
    And thank you for the tip : to avoid ambiguity, let's just not talk about it.
  16. Tararam Senior Member

    Are you serious? you're taking things way out of context...
    I said we use intonation to make the difference, and if not that, we avoid the ambiguity by using other constructions.
    Who the hell talked about "not saying what we mean" in English?
  17. hadronic Senior Member

    New York
    French - France
    Well I guess this wasn't what you meant, but even in context, you got to admit that the wording you chose was calling for a reaction....
  18. Tararam Senior Member

    You see! ambiguity should be avoided!
  19. arielipi Senior Member

    Youre straying off the question; again, there is not 1:1 translation as hebrew is different here from english in its sentences producing structure, it just doesnt work that way, what I gave is the closest form I can think of in most general way, other than that it is context.
  20. hadronic Senior Member

    New York
    French - France
    It boils down to this : even in the affirmative form, Hebrew doesn't seem to distinguish between "he's big like an elephant" and "he's as big as an elephant".
  21. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    At first I assumed Hebrew said "he's as big as an elephant" more or less the German way, something like "hu kol kax gadol kmo pil", but I turned out to be wrong. All the languages I speak or have formally studied distinguishes "as adj as noun" and "adj like noun" (Korean attaches different postpositions to the noun for these two) so I tend to assume that the distinction exists in all languages and want it to exist... But then again Korean has the opposite of "only" as in "he's only 1.5 meters tall", what you would say in "he's [opposite-of-only] 2 meters tall!", but I don't complain about the lack of it in English and probably use it less often in my Korean than a monolingual Koreanophone...

    You could perhaps say in the positive "gadol bidyuk kmo pil" to specify "as big as an elephant"?
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012
  22. C_J Member

    Of course it does. In spoken Hebrew you could use stress and intontation in "גדול כמו פיל" to distinguish between the meanings, and in written form you just use a different, unambiguous phrasing.
    I understand that it might be confusing for non native speakers to understand that "כמו" can mean both "exactly as" and "approximately as", but as arielipi said, Hebrew is not limited to just X כמו Y, and there are many different constructs to convey the exact meaning that we want.

    Consider using these if you're confused:
    for "he's as big as an elephant": "בדומה ל...", "כ..", "בדיוק כמו"
    for "he's big like an elephant" "בִּכְמוֹ", בְּקֵרוּב כמו", "בערך כמו"
  23. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    I suppose that suffices for me.
  24. hadronic Senior Member

    New York
    French - France
    Yes, of course it does, all languages can express everything. I'm not denying that.
    The only difference is, in English and other languages, it's a grammatical feature. It's built in the language. In Hebrew, from what I can collect, it's fully lexicalized. Which means, the expression of that shade of thought will always be optional (and thus, open to ambiguity in absence of overt specializator).
  25. C_J Member

    There are some cases where Hebrew can be ambiguous, like in "פרת הגברת השמנה", but I don't think this is one of them. Not in speech and not in written form.
  26. arielipi Senior Member

    That is why youre not supposed to have more than two smichuyot without shel after that.
    also, hebrew is more of a shoelace form in descriptive words - description words are connected to the last noun word; of course its not a rule, but thats how its done.
  27. C_J Member

    I know that this example is somewhat rare (because we naturally tend to avoid it), but it is correct grammatically. This ambiguity arises every time that the adj/v agrees with both the somekh and nismakh , since you are not allowed to put anything except ה between סומך and נסמך like in "פרת [השמנה] הגברת". Compare with "מתחם הר הבית הקדוש vs פרת סבי הזקן, פרת סבי הזקנה"

    Some weird cases can also happen with סמיכות כבולה since you're allowed/expected to move the ה around (מנהל הבית ספר החדש/מנהל בית הספר החדש).
    Obviously, you can use a coma / של to remove this ambiguity but such cases still may occur.

    Also, when you have a שרשרת סמיכות you can break it apart, but you don't have to. Many times you don't, consider the following (exaggerated) instance:
    לשכת סגן רמטכ"ל צה"ל החדש = הלשכה של סגן רמטכ"ל צה"ל החדש = הלשכה של הסגן החדש של רמטכ"ל צה"ל = הלשכה של הסגן החדש של ראש המטכ"ל של צה"ל = הלשכה של הסגן החדש של ראש המטה הכללי של צה"ל = הלשכה של הסגן החדש של ראש המטה הכללי של צבא ההגנה לישראל (הלשכה של סגנו החדש של העומד בראש המטה הכללי של צבא ההגנה לישראל)ץ
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  28. hadronic Senior Member

    New York
    French - France
    The ambiguity you're talking about is purely syntactical. The one I'm talking about is quite diffenrent.
    English also has some :
    - he must be at home : חוא חייב להיות בבית
    - he must be at home : יתכן שהוא בבית
  29. C_J Member

    Please explain what do you mean? What led you to the conclusion that Hebrew comparatives are inherently ambiguous?
    Are you saying, that in Hebrew you cannot accurately describe the difference in a degree of a certain property in one entity in comparison to another?
  30. Tararam Senior Member

    It's a bit off-topic, but the second translation should be: "הוא לבטח/בטח בבית".
    יתכן expresses possibility whereas "לבטח" expresses probability.
  31. hadronic Senior Member

    New York
    French - France
    I didn't say that. I said that all languages can, but some do it in their grammar, other in their lexicon. And that lexicon, as opposed to grammar, is always optional.
  32. C_J Member

    I see. But you're saying that English is somehow different? It's true that many english words use the morphological adj+er/adj+est, but many also use the syntatic more+adj/most+adj (just like Hebrew uses יותר+adj / הכי+adj).
    And in both languages you will need to use the same syntatical constructions with conjunctions and subordinate clauses anyway.
    In "as adj/adv as X" example the first "as" can be omited anyway, so "He's as brave as a lion" = "He's brave as a lion" which is identical to the Hebrew "הוא חזק כאריה" (Hebrew doesn't use a verb here).

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