vav conversive (re: subject pronouns)

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Fri Sep 3 11:48:40 EDT 1999

I fear some confusion here. I would not call the morpheme on the verb 
marking the person a "pronoun" or "pronominal element" at all, it is 
part of the verb morphology. This may be the same point which the "One 
person I am working with" is questioning. The matter becomes confusing 
when we look at the following sentences:

1.          )EQTOL )ET-HEBEL
4.          YIQTOL )ET-HEBEL

1, 2, 4 and 5 are all grammatical (I think, I'm not sure what word 
orders would be used for 2 and 5), and are distinguished in that in 2 
and 5 there is an explicit personal pronoun, whereas in 1 and 4 the 
person is implied from the morpheme. The more common forms are 1 and 
4, and the reasons for using 2 or 5 rather than 1 or 4 may include 
focus on the subject. Many languages work like this, including Latin, 
NT Greek, Turkish etc.; the only difference is that in these (as in 
the Hebrew suffix conjugation) the morpheme indicating person is a 
suffix rather than a prefix. But 3 is ungrammatical because it 
violates an agreement rule. At least some people would parse 1 and 4 
as having a zero subject (forced to be first or third person by the 
agreement marker). I would have severe problems with trying to 
describe the aleph and yod in 1 and 4 as the subjects of these 

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: vav conversive (re: subject pronouns)
Author:  brocine at at internet
Date:    02/09/1999 07:41

Brian Tucker wrote:
> Greetings
> Thanks for the answers, I tried to expand on what I meant 
> > > I am primarily concerned about the "pronoun subject" 
verses "pronominal
> > > element" understanding. Is this distinction important 
enough to make an
> > > issue over?
> >
> > I think it depends on whether one is translating or 
doing exegesis.
> > If translating into a language like English that 
requires either a
> > nominal or pronominal subject, probably not. 
Exegetically, there's
> > a difference between a clause that includes an explicit 
pronoun and
> > one that simply has the subject's person gender and 
number built
> > into the verb form.
> Could you expand on this answer a little. One person I am 
working with
> is making an issue over the difference between pronoun 
subject and
> pronominal element. He feels that pronominal element is 
the correct
> label here, that it is not actually the pronoun subject.

"Pronominal element," while correct, does leave something to 
be desired because it does not mention the pronominal 
element is a subject.  How about "pronominal subject"?  I 
see nothing wrong with "subject pronoun" or "prefixed 
subject pronoun."  Maybe your student is simply wrestling 
with how many and what kind of morphemes may be included in 
one Hebrew word (as in one graphic cluster of letters).
Hope you are not in for a long semester!  ;-)


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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