A new tack on 'asher

Glenn Blank glennblank at earthlink.net
Thu Jun 14 01:48:08 EDT 2001

Clay raised a point that I do not remember being addressed.  I apologize for
this post if this thread has been closed by the moderators, or if my
question has already been answered.  If this is the case, perhapse someone
could just send me the "gist" of what was said.

Clay wrote,
>From: c stirling bartholomew <cc.constantine at worldnet.att.net>
>Date: Thu, 10 May 2001 09:59:58 -0700
>When we say that 'asher links "two independent clauses of which the
>second explains more distinctly a part of the first," do we not need to
>a close look at what we mean by "two independent clauses." . . . the
function of
>subordination marker is to make these two clauses interdependent is it not?
>The clause marked with 'asher limits the semantic scope of some constituent
>in the higher level clause, so that the two clauses combine to form a
>level constituent (a compound clause). I am speaking here in terms of
>hypotaxis, and assuming that 'asher is functionally similar to hOS in
>This may not in fact be the case which is the reason that I am raising the
>So how does 'asher differ in function from hOS in Greek?

hOS functions as a relative pronoun in Greek, and not simply as a
complementizer.  By "complementizer," I mean a particle subordinating the
following clause -- that is, signalling that the clause serves as a
within the matrix clause.  A relative pronoun serves that function, but in
addition is itself a constituent within the subordinate clause.  

Consequently, in English,
  "This is the man {whom [I visited _____]}"

"whom" is a relative pronoun, signalling "whom I visited" as a modifier of
"man" but also serving as the direct object of "visited."

French, on the other hand, has two ways of constructing such a sentence:
  Voici      l'homme  {a   qui  [Marie ____ a   parle]}
   here [is] the man   to  whom  Marie      has talked.

   Voici      l'homme {que  [Marie  lui     a   parle]}
   here [is] the man   COMP  Marie to him   has talked 

In the first example, "a qui" is a relative pronoun, functioning  both as a
complementizer (COMP) *and* as the object of "a parle," but in the second,
"que" is only a complementizer,
with the object of "a parle" ("lui") still in the subordinate clause itself.

I know that )aSHR functions as a relative pronoun in a number of places in
BH (e.g., Genesis 2:8).  My question is, are there places where it functions
only as a complementizer and not as a relative pronoun, as does "que" in
French.    (There are cases where "that" functions both ways in English --
"I saw the man that bit the dog" where it is a relative pronoun verses "The
man said that the dog bit him" where it functions as only a complementizer)

It seems to me that if )aSHR always functions as a relative pronoun, then we
are bound to the relative interpretation of Ex 3:14 -- 
      "I am/will be {what [I am/will be _____]}."   
(with "what" serving as the direct object of the second "I am/will be"
If, on the other hand, )aSHR can function strictly as a complementizer, then
the possibility exists for seeing the subordinate clause in an existential
sense, as David has proposed:
      "I am {COMP [I am]}"  or  "I will be {COMP [I will be]"
(with the second "I am/will be" having no object, but itself serving as the
object of the first "I am/wil be")

So how )aSHR functions seems to me to be crucial to the questions on Ex.

glenn blank
Pensacola  FL 

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