Translation:Are you playing?
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What meaning of the word "play" is משחק? Does it mean playing a game, playing an instrument, or either?
It can mean to play a game, or to act (i.e. what an actor does). To play an instrument is לנגן.
Does this cover all types of games e.g. cards, board games, tennis or hockey and something like hide and seek?
What about the concept of "playing with someone" or "toying with"? Like a cat with a mouse or one person with another.
Yes, for example אני מנגן בגיטרה = I play guitar. (or: I am playing a guitar).
I said "Are you acting?" and was counted wrong. I thought משחק could also mean acting??
Can it count as playing around like when you prank someone and lie saying something like "theres no school tomorrow" but then youre like "nahhh im playing, we do have school tomorrow"..?
No, for pranking and such the verb used is usually "לסדר" (which also means to get in order)
After trying many times to hear the first vowel of the verb “to play”, “i” or “e”?!...I’m guessing that it is a schwa, the first sound in the word “America”. So it would be məsakheq. Pealim has מְשַׂחֵק and so I think that the schwa under the first letter is the signal that the schwa is the first sound. Can anyone back me up?
Well, the English(?) phonologists took the term "schwa" from Hebrew, but ironically, modern Hebrew lost the schwa... We're keeping it in writing (with niqqud), but the pronunciation of שווא נע collapsed into either no vowel at all or a full blown /e/ sound (not randomly; you can make quite strict generalization about which of the two in which case, and they are very consistent among speakers; but I don't think it's well-known or well-documented).
So we don't have degrees of /e/ (nor of any of the five vowels), except maybe stressed and unstressed; I don't know whether the phonologists consider it "a degree of /e/". The מ in משחק has a full blown /e/ sound. I can see why you think you heard a reduced /e/ here, but I think it's just the speaker here speaking a little bit fast.
There is one degree of freedom that I just realized: if משחק follows a vowel (like in the sentence above), it may be reduced to having no vowel: /ata msakhek/ (or /atam sakhek/, if you will). Maybe it's a little bit more colloquial. The speaker here clearly did not go this way.
Thanks! This is a good layer of knowledge to supplement what I learned in biblical Hebrew, which is that the schwa is sounded at the beginning of a sentence, when it’s the second in a pair of sh’va, when it’s under the first of two of the same consonants such as הַלְלוּיָה and after a kamats, a tsere, a holem or a shureq.
About that shva being sounded at the beginning of a word...that might have been true in biblical Hebrew, but in modern Hebrew, Ingeborg said that a shva at the beginning of the word has an e sound if it’s under מ ל נ or ר, or if the shva is followed by א ע or ה.