root

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Thu Sep 2 16:20:26 EDT 1999


Randall wrote:
> the following still seems to be an issue: 
> 
> (quotes below are from the vav conversive thread)
> >The root is the lexical form most of the time, although the term is 
> >also used of the non-pointed (usually-)three-radical base from 
> >which words are derived (e.g. )HB for both )FHAB the verb and 
> >)FHFB the noun).  The stems or binyanim are inflections of the root 
> >that are formed using various infixes and affixes.
> 
> i would strongly advise that the second line is correct and would point out
> that the first line is very misleading, something endemic in our field. the
> first line leads to "etymological" thinking and students thinking that they
> can/should 'conjugate' new vocabulary. (e.g. waltke/o'conner's overview of
> binyanim.)
> roots are abstractions but are not lexemes (e.g. in terms of a deep
> structure producing and filling predicate frames), despite the 1000-year
> old dictionary convention of gathering verbs and other words under roots.
[snip]
I'm a tad uncertain as to what is "first line" and "second line," but I 
wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment about roots.  From a 
transformational-generative point of view, what we are looking at 
with roots is a fine example of X-bar syntax.  The noun and verb 
may ultimately derive from the same "root," but grouping everything 
under a root heading just makes words harder to find.  This is why I 
tell my online students to get Holladay's lexicon and smile 
passingly at BDB in the beginning.  I hope it didn't sound as though 
I'm advocating the BDB type approach; I merely sought to answer 
the question about what constitutes a root.

Dave Washburn
http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
"Ich veranlassenarbeitenworken mein Mojo."



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