New Topics

peter_kirk at sil.org peter_kirk at sil.org
Sat Aug 28 10:59:47 EDT 1999


Dear Paul,

This is an interesting question, and one which I happen to be looking 
at (at a seminar) in the context of a quite different language family, 
Turkic. Surely the answer is to look at sentences in which the normal 
order of clause constituents is not followed. Thus in Azerbaijani, 
where the normal order is subject-object-verb, the sentence "Otaqdaki 
sukutu Rauf pozdu" ("In-the-room silence Rauf broke"), the order is 
object-subject-verb, and this indicates some special marking on the 
subject, the name "Rauf". In the context it is clear that he is being 
brought into the story as a new topic (he was previously named only as 
one of a group). Can we find similar examples in Hebrew where the 
subject of transitive verb comes towards the end of the sentence, 
after the object? Can the explanation for these cases, or for some of 
them, be that the subject is a new topic? If so, that would be a 
strong indication that new topics do indeed move towards the end of 
the sentence in Hebrew as in other languages.

Peter Kirk


______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: New Topics
Author:  zellmer at digitelone.com at internet
Date:    27/08/1999 03:36

<snip>

So I come back to my previous problem: How do we know if something is 
right because it is being introduced, or right because that's the normal 
clause order?  Right now I fail to see the exegetical or interpretative 
value of the hypothesis, although it might give *one* reason for the 
word order as we find it in the Hebrew.

Just my thoughts,

Paul




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