nehemiah, minimalism: giuseppe, ian

Vincent DeCaen decaen at
Wed Mar 7 11:49:02 EST 2001

dear friends, thanks for your questions.

dear giuseppe: 
to the extent that i can string out the development of the
hebrew language (roughly five strata, with finer distinctions), the *bulk*
of ezra-nehemiah is in stratum V, with ecclesiastes and most of song of
songs. unfortunately, stratum V is the most complex, currently, for me to
sort. ;-) what i want to do is work out the relations between stratum V
and material from the dead sea scrolls, e.g.

dear ian:
lot to be said for lateral thinking (a la E. de Bono, etc). you
may know about the position here at u. of toronto: in any case, i've been
short-listed. and i think my lecture will be on how this "minimalist
programme" in linguistics works. briefly, "corpus linguistics", or
harnassing the power of the computer and statistics, to study very fine
variation in large corpora (not actually rocket science, either). i will
put a version of that paper on the internet in MSWord format for
downloading. in the meantime....

briefly, nehemiah 1-4 exhibits traits that i associate with stratum III
(ca. 500-400); but the bulk looks like stratum V. so that 's interesting.
also interesting is that there is clear evidence of different aramaic
dialects in ezra-nehemiah (i haven't seen a treatment of this: maybe you
know something?). so one thing that i want to do this summer is work up an
exhaustive "dialect geography" a la corpus linguistics, and see how the
chips fall.... both for the hebrew and aramaic...

but i suppose you can forgive me for not giving away the specifics till i
get *some* of this published.... ;-)  (hopefully, very soon.)

but in terms of your general question, there is a general problem: between
maximalist and minimalist extremes, where does the burden of proof rest?
good question. all i am saying is, that an extreme minimalist position
forces good questions (lateral thinking), and can frame traditional
questions in a new light. that's all i'm committed to, at this time. i'm
willing to judge any argument on its merits. but i will be in the library
tomorrow, reading up on the basic sources i've culled from bibliographies,
and will be in a better position to judge "merit"......

V -- 
Dr Vincent DeCaen     <decaen at>
c/o Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, 4 Bancroft Ave., 2d floor
University of Toronto, Toronto ON, CANADA, M5S 1A1

Hebrew Syntax Encoding Initiative,
Love work. Hate authority.  --Shemaiah, from Avot

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