"Why are you walking backwards?"

Translation:למה אתה הולך אחורה?

July 17, 2016

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This sentence is a bit problematic. The Hebrew למה אתה הולך אחורה? would be translated to "Why are you going backwards?" or figuratively "Why are you remembering past events?". If one wants to say "Why are you walking backwards?", that would usually be למה אתה הולך אחורנית? However, that answer isn't currently accepted (reported).

So it's not that the given translation is incorrect, but it's heavily context-dependent, and could be interpreted differently.


Thanks, I was wondering about this. Besides the translation "Why are you going backwards?", could it perhaps be translated, "Why are you walking[/going] back?" Either way, the English translation is less important than the meaning(s) that the Hebrew clause can be used to convey. A lack of context certainly doesn't help resolve the ambiguities!

אחורה seems to (prototypically) convey spatial direction or trajectory of motion/movement (e.g., with verbs of motion/movement). (It can also be used of course in other contexts, such as, with verbs of perception [cf. Gen 13:14], etc.)

אחורנית seems to (prototypically) convey spatial orientation (or arrangement) of the participant moving/ in motion, or how they're moving (i.e., the participant is walking facing backwards, with their back oriented toward or in the direction of their motion/movement and their front facing the opposite direction). Here's an ancient, biblical-Hebraic example from Noah's sons Shem and Japheth in Genesis/Bereshit (9:23f):

ויקח שם ויפת את-השמלה

וישימו על-שכם שניהם

וילכו אחרנית

ויכסו את ערות אביהם

ופניהם אחרנית

וערות אביהם לא ראו


The sentence i was given used מדוע instead of למה. Ive never seen it before. Are they interchangeable?


My understanding is that למה is less formal and much more commonly used. Literally it means "for what," but it's used just like we'd use the word "why" in English. The word מדוע also means "why," and I think is older and more biblical.


When I clicked on the words, they appeared on the screen from left to right instead of from right to left.


למה? כי אני אישה ולומדת לקוקד טנגו עם הגבר שלי.....


I would think that this sentence would mean (translating from the Hebrew) "Why do you walk behind?"


why do you walk behind = למה אתה הולך מאחורה.
מאחורה = behind.
לאחור / אחורה = backwards


that would be "Lama Ata Holech MeAchora"

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