Chapter I.5. Comparing Things (to be continued...)

In English, there are forms such as “slower” and “slowest”, and there are also such words as “more” and “most”. Thankfully, Hebrew doesn’t have special comparative forms, so there is only the other way. The word “more” translates to Hebrew as


Can you try to read it? Well, a word can’t start with a vowel, so Yud at the beginning of a word must be pronounced as “y”. Then there’s Vav which isn’t doubled, so it’s probably either “o” or “u”. Then there are Tav and Resh with no Yud nor Vav between them, so there must be either “e” or “a” between them. Or maybe there’s no vowel at all, like “yutr”? Well, the thing is that two consonants with no vowel between at the end of a word are pretty rare in Hebrew. In fact, forms like “medaberet” were transformed from something like “medabert” exactly because Hebrew doesn’t like two consonants at the end. So “yutr” is quite unlikely. That leaves “yotar”, “yoter”, “yutar” and “yuter”. We already know that “yoter” would follow the present participle paal pattern (like “lomed”), but it doesn’t seem to make any sense since “more” is not a participle. That leaves us puzzled among 4 variants.

In fact, “yoter” is the correct reading and it demonstrates that semantics of specific patterns are pretty vague. We’ve already seen this pattern acting as a noun (“shomer” – “a guard”), now it’s not even a name. It also demonstrates another fact: a word may exist for some pattern that is a part of some binyan even if the specific verb doesn’t exist. Simply put, there’s no such verb as “yatar”. That’s why its present participle pattern is free to use by a word that has nothing to do with verbs at all.