Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 317-329

First online:

How to tell the time in Hebrew

  • Benny ShanonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, The Hebrew University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


A corpus of expressions specifying time, length, and price in modern Hebrew was collected. The corpus reveals systematic morphological patterns that are at the same time complex and consistent both within and across informants. Further check revealed that informants are totally unaware of the rules governing these patterns. Indeed, these rules are not specified in the literature (grammar books, instruction texts, or language manuals) either. The systematic patterns of verbal behavior coupled with informants' total ignorance of the rules governing them are taken as an empirical demonstration of the contrast between “knowing how” and “knowing that.” The contrast is significant in that it pertains not to abstract formal rules (like the syntactic rules with which the contrast is standardly associated) but rather to concrete rules of morphology.