"Only a bookworm like you can read this boring book."

Translation:רק תולעת ספרים כמוךָ יכול לקרוא את הספר המשעמם הזה.

September 17, 2016

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You mean to tell me that someone actually checked the gender of this worm?


Well, surprisingly the אֶ֫בֶן־שׁוֹשָׁן dictionary lists תּוֹלַע־סֵ֫פֶר as a masculine variant for bookworm, citing Ephraim Lisitzky, an American poet most famous for his epic poems about Indians in Hebrew. While תּוֹלָע was used biblically for scarlet-dyed yarn and once for worms in stale manna in Ex 10:20 (וירם תולעים ויבאש and it bred worms and bcame foul), the usual word for worm or maggot was תּוֹלֵעָה, whose construct state תּוֹלַ֫עַת was generalised in Mishnaic Hebrew and stayed this way. But unless you are writing epic poems, I would advise against male worms in Hebrew. Speakers without or a lost system of grammatical gender for nouns like English find it always strange to use feminine nouns for men too (like French la dupe [fool] or la victime) but as a German I find this absolutely normal. Or as Mark Twain put it, translating this from a conversation "in one of the best of the German Sunday-school books": Gretchen: Wilhelm, where is the turnip? Wilhelm: She has gone to the kitchen. Gretchen: Where is the accomplished and beautiful English maiden? Wilhelm: It has gone to the opera.


One of the best posts I have ever read. Thank you. I grew up in New Orleans and knew of Lisitzky. I never met him although some of my friends studies under him.


רַק תּוֹלַעַת סְפָרִים כָּמוֹךָ יָכוֹל לִקְרֹא אֶת הַסֵּפֶר הַמְּשַׁעֲמֵם הַזֶּה


Shouldn't it be יכולה, since תולעת is feminine?


You see, there is some disagreement here between native speakers. How would you conjugate the verb when the subject is a certain gender (or number), but in truth refers to a person of another gender (or number)? This is not a singular case, because people can be called names that are gendered regardless of their own gender - ,אתה תופעה, היא אסון, אתם הדבר הכי טוב שקרה לחברה הזאת. My opinion is the gender of the subject "wins", so רק תולעת ספרים כמוך יכולה. But it is awkward and you see not everyone agrees.


You are right, it should be יכולה. But it is not a mistake to say יכול here if the person you are talking to is a male.


It's not correct to say it should be יכולה.

A book worm (תולעת ספרים) is a figurative to describe someone, regardless of gender, even though תולעת is female. The verb will conjugate only by the subject, not by the figurative.

In other examples the male version of the animal might be used, but I guess we're not that familiar with the male worm.


DL didn't accept רק תולעת ספרים כמו שאתה יכול לקרוא את הספר המשעמם הזה. It insisted on כמוךָ.


Well, usually after כְּמוֹ שֶׁ־ a subordinate clause follows: אֲבָל זֶה שְׁזרוּדְל כְּמוֹ שֶׁאַתָּה אוֹהֵב but it is strudel the way you like it. If the verb in it is a simple to be, the clause can end after the personal pronoun: אֲנִי אוֹהֶ֫בֶת אוֹתְךָ בְּדִיּוּק כְּמוֹ שֶׁאַתָּה I love you just as you (are). But if the main clause contines after this, the reader is tempted to read on the כְּמוֹ שֶׁ־-clause: the way you can read this boring book, ..., so I would consider this bad writing style. In a conversation you could pause of course to indicate the shift to the main clause.


Good comment. Thanks.

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