Translation of Piel (and Pual) roots

yochanan bitan ButhFam at compuserve.com
Sat Dec 25 16:48:58 EST 1999


rwburks:
>Using the Perfect Piel for example the use of Piel with the 3ms form of
Piel for the 
>word Q+L might be translated "he brutally killed."  Some treat it as
causative almost like a 
>Hifil. Other grammars indicated that the Piel root (and for that matter
the Pual root, while 
>being the passive) speak of the resultive or factive nature of the stem. 
The same word with a 
>transitive would require an object like "he killed Tom". Or if
intransitive it would be with no 
>object "He killed" .  The latter it seems would be difficult to
distinguish from the Qal form to 
>me. 

RB:
your email comes as a timely example of a parallel discussion going on on
this list. 
what you have listed above shows that you are a good student and have been
making progress with what has been taught to you.

unfortunately, what you have been taught is misleading, or inside-out. 
it is etymology in place of semantics.
let me illustrate:
*qittel above does not exist. 
it is not a word. you are not allowed to "conjugate" new vocabulary. 

--but you might ask: couldn't a speaker create a new word?
--answer: yes, of course. in fact qittel is attested in medieval hebrew
(post-talmudic, piyyutim). 

to what may this be compared? 
what would you think about an english student and grammar that said:
"he killed them up", "she killed them up", "i killed them up", etc?

what does it mean? what would you tell an english teacher who taught that
to students?

i would wish better for our field.

RWB:
>What does the use of Piel and Pual really tell me about the nature of how
it should be 
>translated.

RB:
piel doesn't tell you anything until you know what the word means. 
[this is not a zen koan(sp?).]
after you know what the word means you know what the word means
(semantics). 
you might be able to group it in a sub-category of pi`el's that show
similar semantic relationships  with related verbs (etymology).

elef braxot
randall buth



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