Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hebrew Progress and Fridge Progress (nil and nil)

Update #1: My self-taught Hebrew lessons have been cancelled.  I was doing well, but I got to the stage of looking at the mourner's kaddish (prayer), which was the reason I wanted to learn Hebrew in the first place.  I wanted to see if I could sound out the words letter by letter as a reading exercise. There was a translation as well as a transliteration on the web page.  I read the translation, and realized that the prayer itself didn't resonate with me.

I wanted to learn this prayer so that when my own family dies and I am called upon to recite it, it would mean something to me.  I wanted to know and understand the words so that it would actually be comforting, instead of being gobbledygook. Having seen the meaning of the words, my reaction is that it isn't comforting at all in any language.  It doesn't even deal with the subject of death.  It's boilerplate worship language, praising God on high, asking for peace, amen.  Noble sentiments, to be sure, but not worth learning an entire language for.

I may as well just read along with the transliteration, in that case.  There are plenty of other ways I can spend my time productively instead of learning a language that has little relevance in my life.  Hebrew isn't an easy language to learn, in that modern, written Hebrew doesn't bother notating half the vowels.  It's fine for those who grew up with the language, but for new learners it's a pain in the butt.   Come on, lazy Israelis, how much trouble would it be to just write out the vowels like every other written language?  (So I'm not a linguist; maybe there are other languages that don't bother with vowels, but I'm just sayin'.)

Update #2:  The fridge saga continues.  New New Fridge is doing fine.  However, Sears lost the damaged fridge that I returned.

How does one lose a fridge?  Beats me.  The delivery guys hoisted it into the back of their truck, and apparently that was the last time anyone saw it.  Either the truck driver sold it for $20 by the side of the road, or it was returned to the warehouse without the proper documentation.  Same difference to me; I paid for two fridges and I only have one.

They told me initially that it would take 10 business days for a refund to appear on my Visa.  It was shortly after that that I started calling the customer service desk, speaking to a series of clueless call centre employees who made me repeat the entire story each time.  And each time I spoke to someone new they assured me that the Investigations Department was looking into it and someone would call me back within two business days.  I waited three days each time, and no one ever called me back. Garrrrrr.

Five weeks after the fridge exchange took place, I made enough noise to get transferred to Tony in the National Escalations department.  I invited him to come to my house to search in the closets and under the beds for an extra fridge.  I told him "I have been patient, but I currently have one fridge and I have paid you for two.  Sears can take all the time you like investigating, but I don't want to carry this fee on my credit card while that's happening.  That part is your problem.  Refund my money, and look for the fridge on your own time."

Tony was very understanding, and said that he believed that I hadn't stashed the old new fridge under my bed.  He said that he would send a message to the Credit Department to do a manual refund, regardless of whether or not the dented fridge has been located.

Of course the manual refund will take ten business days to go through.  Someone will definitely call me to follow up.  *eyeroll*  I guess we'll see.


Vanessa T said...

Hebrew is a very intimidating language! I remember when our Rabbi explained that the traditional mourner's kaddish wasn't mourning language at all. I guess it is to signify that God is in control of all, and is to be trusted with everything, even death.

Sheesh about the fridge thing! I'd be screaming, too! You can always show him your blog posts as evidence, I suppose. I'm sure it's in a warehouse somewhere, getting moldy. I doubt even a delivery driver would try to sell a damaged one, even if he were so inclined, which I doubt as well. Hopefully, you'll get your money back straight away.

*hugs* Spark. And thank you for being such a good friend.

DarcKnyt said...

Hebrew can be hard to learn. I did some canting for our church for a while, and it was stressful to try and learn the correct pronunciations and the rhythms, cadence, etc. ("Synhopation," I believe.) I sort of agree with my wife's comment about why the language of the Kaddish is what it is - demonstrative of trust in God's sovereignty - but it is a hard language to learn. I've tried twice, on my own, but never got too far.

And the fridge thing would have me swearing and banging and being RUDE on the phone to Sears people. I hope that resolves to your satisfaction PDQ. I hope that pans out the way it ought.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I only learned Hebrew to pick up women... sadly it didn't work.

LL Cool Joe said...

Somehow I thought Tony would be round at your place checking for a fridge under your bed and in your closets. I think he missed a exciting opportunity to rummage through your stuff. Still, a very irritating situation for you. Remind me not to shop in Sears.

Emma Gorst said...

Glad you got it escalated, otherwise you'd have been talking to people forever about how they haven't got it back so they can't refund you...!

Arabic and Aramaic and other Semitic languages like Hebrew don't have the vowels. Slavic languages have lots of words without vowels. Chinese doesn't represent the sounds at all which is entirely problematic from my point of view (i.e. a learner..!).

Apparently niqqud was developed to help new Hebrew learners get along with this vowel-free system?

Of course, not learning Hebrew is fine too!

Snowbrush said...

I’m sorry about your fridge. Last year, I didn’t receive my monthly narcotics shipment. When I complained, I was told that it had been delivered, scanned, and signed-for. Well NOOOO!!! I finally had to call the DEA, and I still only got part of the shipment (some of the pills having been stolen from the bottle). Then, my pharmacist refused to ship me narcotics, implying that I had stolen my own drugs and then reported them stolen by someone else. What a mess.

As for your Hebrew, I’m just sorry you’re disillusioned. You wanted meaning, and you found pap. Religion is often that way. Sometimes, I think a person might do better to make up their own religion, the pre-packaged varieties being so lacking.

Snowbrush said...

I came back to this post forgetting that I had been, and I see that my new comment (that I wrote in Word) is entirely different from my first comment:

What didn’t you like about the prayer? I assume its author is unknown, and I know that the description on the link says it’s ancient, but it also says that it has been around for centuries. Centuries doesn’t necessarily mean ancient, but millennia does, so why not millennia if it's really that old? For some reason, I’m attracted to the Gloria in Excelsis, and I don’t like it either, but there’s clearly some hook that it has in me that transcends its groveling and nonsensicalness. In these regards, I see common elements between it and this prayer.

I regret that you're giving up Hebrew. Because I have nothing to compare having such a language to, I can but imagine that it's both a blessing and a curse.