discourse analysis and circular reasoning

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Mon Apr 15 05:57:00 EDT 2002

But Rolf, if Niccacci's method is "descriptive" and so wanting, what is
different about any other method including yours? As far as I can see,
by your argument there is no method by which we can find out how many
conjugations there are or anything about the meaning of Hebrew. So
should we all give up and go home? Or how can we find a method which is
not circular (and which is not based, as yours is, on subjective
judgments of which verbs are past, present or future) which can actually
tell us something about the semantics of Hebrew?

Peter Kirk

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rolf Furuli [mailto:furuli at online.no]
> Sent: 15 April 2002 08:10
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: RE: discourse analysis and circular reasoning
> Dear Peter,
> I have never said that Niccacci's or anybody else's method is
> "suspect". Niccacci has done a great job by describing discourse
> patterns in detail. My principal point, however, has been that
> discourse analysis is *descriptive*, and  the method can never be
> used to show how many conjugations there are in Hebrew, let alone
> their meaning. That  this is possible is implied by Niccacci's
> "Syntax..", and in this area I criticise him. My second point has
> been that the method entails a measure of circularity, and this is
> admitted by the linguist on whose work Niccacci builds, namely,
> Harald Weinrich. In his work "Tense and Time" Archivum Linguisticum 1
> (new Series), p 41, he admits that his method is "unassailable",i.e.
> it cannot be tested by other means.
> Therefore, if you put it five conjugations, the output is five
> conjugations. My advise is to use discourse analysis in the ares
> where it belongs, namely, as describing patterns. And do not pretend
> that we by the help of this method can learn anything about the
> number of conjugations or the meaning of each conjugation. This is
> reserved for a study of the smallest parts of language
> Regards
> Rolf
> Rolf Furuli
> University of Oslo

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