The task is too difficult for the boy.

Ali Smith

Senior Member
Urdu - Pakistan
שלום

My textbook contains the following phrase in the exercises: The task is too difficult for the boy.

Which translation is more appropriate for classical Hebrew?

העבודה קשה מהנער
קשה העבודה מהנער

אני מודה לכם מאוד
 
  • radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    Well... word order in Classical Hebrew is rather fluid, especially when it comes to nominal clauses, but the unmarked order seems (and I stress seems, since the consensus is by no means clear) to be subject-predicate when the subject is definite.

    In any case, it seems (again seems) to me quite clear that the more natural word order in this specific example is העבודה קשה מהנער, but this is more from gut feeling than anything else. Do you disagree? I am open to being persuaded otherwise.

    Alternatively, קשׁתה העבודה מהנער would also be possible.
     

    amikama

    a mi modo
    עברית
    Why מהנער and not לנער? I'd interpret קשה העבודה מהנער as "the work is more difficult than the boy", which doesn't make sense.
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    Why מהנער and not לנער? I'd interpret קשה העבודה מהנער as "the work is more difficult than the boy", which doesn't make sense.

    The preposition מן expresses the notion of ‘too’. With לנער instead of מהנער, the sentence would merely mean “The work is difficult for the boy.” An alternative interpretation of קשׁתה העבודה מהנער is indeed, “The work is more difficult than the boy.”, but, as you point out, this doesn't make sense, so it must mean “The work is too difficult for the boy.”
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Well... word order in Classical Hebrew is rather fluid, especially when it comes to nominal clauses, but the unmarked order seems (and I stress seems, since the consensus is by no means clear) to be subject-predicate when the subject is definite.

    In any case, it seems (again seems) to me quite clear that the more natural word order in this specific example is העבודה קשה מהנער, but this is more from gut feeling than anything else. Do you disagree? I am open to being persuaded otherwise.

    Alternatively, קשׁתה העבודה מהנער would also be possible.

    My hunch is exactly the opposite. But I couldn't really think of any specific examples one way or the other, so I refrained from weighing in.

    But now I googled it and found this article (see particularly point B.1), which cites Gen. 3:6 and 4:13 as examples.

    Do you have any specific examples of the adjective following the (definite) noun?
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    But now I googled it and found this article (see particularly point B.1), which cites Gen. 3:6 and 4:13 as examples.

    Do you have any specific examples of the adjective following the (definite) noun?

    Certainly! Examples abound of a predicate adjective following a definite noun: Gen 33:13 הַיְלָדִים רַכִּים, Jdg 18:10 הָאָרֶץ רַחֲבַת יָדַיִם, 1 Sm 2:17 רָעַתְכֶם רַבָּה. The article you linked to itself gives Gen 2:12 זֲהַב הָאָרֶץ הַהִוא טֹוב.

    And speaking of the article, unless I am reading it incorrectly, it seems to support my point of view. Indeed, point B says that the rule, when the predicate is an adjective, is that the arrangement is subject-predicate, and then it goes on to cite exceptions, Gen 3:6 and 4:13 being examples thereof, when there is special emphasis on the adjective.

    But for comparative expressions, I think you may be right, in that, by its very nature, the comparison places emphasis on the adjective, so it comes first as often as not. Gen 4:13 would be an example of this, although there is probably an emphasis on גדול in that verse that is absent from the more prosaic sentence העבודה קשה מהנער.
     
    Top