vav conversive (re: root vs. stem)

Bryan Rocine brocine at
Thu Sep 2 09:06:38 EDT 1999

Brian Tucker wrote:
> > > > 4. What is the best way to describe the difference
between a root and a
> > > > stem?
> > >

and Dave Washburn responds:
> > > Depends on what you mean by "stem."  If you mean
> > > there's an obvious difference.  If you're using it in
another way, I
> > > don't know.
> >

> > Paul Zellmer's post answered this question. As it
pertains to binyan,
> > how would you characterize the obvious difference?

> The root is the lexical form most of the time, although
the term is
> also used of the non-pointed (usually-)three-radical base
> which words are derived (e.g. )HB for both )FHAB the verb
> )FHFB the noun).  The stems or binyanim are inflections of
the root
> that are formed using various infixes and affixes.

Inflections are usually thought to have grammatical meaning,
no?  But with the stems or binyanim, the markers of the
stems do not have grammatical meaning or semantic meaning
(in and of themselves) at all, and, in fact, are not
morphemes at all.  The stem system is a mechanism for
multiplying the meanings of the roots by augmenting the
formation of a verb form with a handful vocalic and
consonantal additions.  We may think that the meaning of a
verb form is the sum of form (e.g. wayyiqtol) plus root
(e.g. 'hb) plus stem (e.g. Qal).  To remain friends with
Randy Buth I will add a qualifier: *certainly*, a native
speaker of Hebrew does not normally think in terms of root +
stem when he understands a word.  To him yatsa' in the Qal
stem is simply a different word with a different meaning
than hotsi' in the Hiphil stem.


B. M. Rocine
Associate Pastor
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13206

(office) 315.437.6744
(home) 315.479.8267

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