Monday, February 01, 2010

Here's An Idea for Someone Else

When I saw the movie Ushpizin (mentioned a couple of posts ago), I got to experience one of those minor pleasures of life that people seldom talk about: unexpectedly hearing words you know in a stream of what are, to you, meaningless sounds. In the movie when the wife walked to the sink and started the hand-washing blessing, it took a moment for the penny to drop and me to realize, "Hey I heard that, I didn't understand it by reading subtitles". I knew the whole beginning of the blessing (Baruch atah adonai melech haolam...), because they are the beginning of other blessings and I Iearned them a long time ago. In the middle of this flow of sounds I couldn't understand was a sentence--or partial sentence--I did understand. Usually when I have this experience it's only a word: some busboys saying manana, for example, or one of the handful of Japanese words I know (oba-chan, konichiwa--words like that) coming out of an anime character's mouth. Suddenly hearing an English word in a stream of foreign language is also pretty good, but not quite as good.

Anyway, this is only preparatory to recommending a website that has some Hebrew blessings with the words in both Hebrew characters and roman letters and audio of each word being said or sung so that you can learn correct pronunciation: Learn Hebrew Presumably the site will eventually be expanded to include more prayers.

And recommending that website is only preparatory to asking why some Catholic somewhere doesn't do this for Latin prayers? I've read advice to pronounce Church Latin like Italian (rather than Classical Latin), and I once somewhere saw a few Latin prayers spelled out phonetically for English speakers, but that's it. Any media-savvy speakers of Church Latin want to perform this service for us slobs who never studied Latin and are too lazy to start but would like to know a few prayers?

If I'm complaining about a lack that has already been filled, please tell me.

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