Friday, August 4, 2017

The Name of the Cow

[This is a vlog post in which the words are transcribed from the video embedded below. ]

One of the early influences that may have led me to come up with Vacuum County, one that I've never thought of before, is this book from my childhood.

This is Vacuum County.

Buy it here!

And this is the book from my childhood.

Actually, this is the front of it.

It's one of those accordion books that have lots of pictures of animals. And I had it when I was a baby.

And so there would be a picture of a dog. And it would say כלב.

And there was a picture of a bunny. And it said שפן. Although a lot of people say you should say  ארנב instead of שפן. And there was a picture of turkey, and it said תרנגול הודו.

There was a picture of a cat, and it said  חתול. There was a picture of a rooster, and it said תרנגול.

And there was a picture of a duck and it said ברווז. And there was a picture of a horse, and it said סוס.

And then there was a picture of a cow, and it said פרה.

Well, my mother, when I was about eighteen months old, and this is not something that I personally remember, but it's something that my mother told me about, she was trying to see whether I could read or not at eighteen months.  So she pointed right here, and she said: "Aya, what does this say?" And I said: "פרח   ".פרח means flower.  And I thought that she was pointing to the flowers that are right here in the grass by the cow.

Okay. It just so happens that the word for פרח (flower) and the word פרה, which means cow, well, they have the first two letters in common. And the last letter, the  ה in פרה would be a ח in פרח. So my mother said: "Oh, wow, that's so close! You're almost reading."

Of course, I just thought that she was pointing at that flower. And then, of course, she realized that I was looking at the flower and not the word.

Anyway, this illustrates that cows have always played a part in my literacy, and that literacy has always played a part in my life, and that misunderstanding small things about words can have big consequences. So all of that may have been a subconscious influence on Vacuum County. 


  1. I know you are a busy lady, but the Hebrew children's book presentation made me think rather than doing that online teaching job that seemed shady, you could start a Hebrew language channel for people who are just starting to learn the language.

    1. I have thought of giving an online course on Biblical Hebrew, using the book of Ruth, the same way I taught it in college. But I do not know how to market that. And to make it work, I would need to charge people subscriptions for tuning in .

    2. There is a site called Patreon, where you can do that. People have to pledge a certain amount before they have access to certain videos. What I was thinking about at the moment that might be easier and less time consuming was just a few basic lessons on Hebrew, geared towards more of a child or beginning learner audience.

    3. That is interesting about Patreon! I will look into that.

      When it comes to children, the best way to learn is total immersion, but that can't be done via a pre-recorded video.

      I wrote about this topic a while back

      I would be willing to give private lessons through Google Hangout or something similar, though.