Linguistic puzzle

Matthew Anstey manstey at
Wed Jun 9 11:34:35 EDT 1999

Gday all,

Since the first-prize for the linguistic puzzle we posed has not yet been
claimed, I thought I'd update you all on the leading contenders so far, to
see if this may stimulate some more creative responses. There are currently
five contenders:

1. tm	transitivity marker
2. ve	verbal extension marker
3. na	non-agent marker
4. do	direct object marker
5. am	affectedness marker

Some notes would be appropriate. Our original choice was tm - transitivity
marker, which most people associated with verbal valency (ie transitive
verbs) rather than the more technical idea of the efficiency of transferring
the effect of the verbal action to the nominal unit. So we are happy to
ditch this since it seems a bit misleading. Choice 2 has been suggested
since it covers all the cases where 'et  introduces verbal complements and
adjuncts, direct objects and indirect objects and adverbials. This is an
improvement in our view on the traditional definite direct object option.
Choice 3 was suggested by Michael Malessa who is writing his dissertation on
'et. His idea is similar to choice 1, and Michael pointed out three examples
where 'et is not a verbal extension marker. Both choice 1 and 3 have been
influenced by an article by W. Randall Garr, "Affectedness, Aspect and
Biblical 'et", Zeitschrift für Althebraistik 4 (1991), 119-134.  Several
people thought it best to stick with the traditional direct object tag,
since it is too troublesome to cover all the exceptions to this, and there
are not enough to warrant a change. This is choice 4. We have come up with
option 5 to replace option 1, as a more readily-understandable version of
what 1, 2, and 3 are aiming for. But we would also like people's feedback on
this option.

But the bets are still on if anyone else wants to contribute. If you missed
the original problem, the goal is to find a two-letter abbreviation that
captures whatever it is that is present in (most if not) all of the 7000+
uses of 'et in the MT.

With regards,
Matthew Anstey
on behalf of Summer Institute of Linguistics.
BART (Biblical Analysis and Research Tool) Software Development
Carl Follingstad, Coordinator  cfollingstad at
Todd Hoatson, Programmer Todd_Hoatson at

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