"Why doesn't he answer me?"

Translation:למה הוא לא עונֶה לי?

June 28, 2016

This discussion is locked.


When do you use למה and when do you use מדוע or are they totally interchangeable?


lama(h) (למה) is teleological, you're inquiring as to the purpose of something, it is future-oriented. madou`a (מדוע) is aetiological, you're inquiring as to reasons/causes behind something, it is past-oriented.


So if I understand what you're saying, the questions, "?למה זה קורה" and "?מדוע זה קורה", both translate as, "Why is this happening?", right? And the nuance is that the former is asking, "What purpose does it serve that this happening?" and the latter is asking, "What events led up to this happening?". Not literal translations, of course, but am I in the ballpark?


Absolute, fantastic analysis!


This response (by GamalNemeri) makes sense, esp. since למה can mean "in order that." And as radasgast wrote, מדוע is more formal. You might use מדוע in a conference paper, for instance. In an article on interrogative particles in the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics (vol 2, pp. 316-18), Ruth Burstein refers to both as "interrogative adverbs of cause" and writes that מדוע has a "higher register," which is ironically an academic way of saying it's more formal; it tends to occur "in literature, in interviews on economics, and in textbooks" (p. 318). As GamalNemeri noted, so also Burstein says למה can be used to ask about purposes and aims.


In german it is similar with the word "wofür" למה and "warum" מדוע


Thanks for the answer but honestly this is like when you look up a word in the dictionary and they give you the same or a similar 10$ word as the definition...


So I look up aetiological. Definition : Of or relating to aetiology. Great, perfect explanation!


Aetiological means explanatory. Gamalnemeri said that ‏מדוע madua inquiries into the reason behind something, but that’s exactly what ‏למה lama does as well. He differentiates between times in which madua and lama operate, but radagast, who has proven very trustworthy, says their meaning is the same.

I don’t think madua is past oriented because a sentence we’ll get later in the Formal section is Madua ze khashuv lanu? Why is it important to us?


you could just to say that it´s more formal than lama. whats the proplem with people that like to make stuff complicated. omg


Their meaning is the same, but "מדוע" is more formal, so when you speak "למה" is your go-to word.


láma hu lo oné li?


Why לי? I thought it should be אותי


Well, אותי can never follow עונה. Only ל to denote the recipient of the answer and על to denote what was answered.


Why don't we say "למה הוא לא עונה עלי " please ?


Because that's not the preposition that goes with עונה. The word על usually means "on", it doesn't really fit here.


Why does בשביל מה... Not work here? I think I'm missing something


Because that means "what for". It doesn't fit here.


Can you change the word order to למא לא הוא עונה לי?

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