discourse analysis and circular reasoning
furuli at online.no
Mon Apr 15 06:40:16 EDT 2002
There is no reason why you should be a linguistic back-packer even
though discrourse analysis is just descriptive. The simple way is to
study individual forms one by one, and then draw your conclusion.
This can reveal whether a particular form is a tense, an aspect, or
has other characteristics. Please look at (1) and (2) below (I use
participles to avoid the problem of conjugation number).
(1) 1 Kings 1.22 While she was still speaking ( (t®rR;bådVm
hÎn®dwøo) with the king, Natan the prophet arrived (aD;b).
(2) 1 Kings 6:33 While she was still speaking (rE;bådVm wn®dwøo
with them, look! the messenger came down (dérOy) to him.
In both examples the action of the second verb (in (1) the second
verb is a QATAL or a participle, in (2) it is a participle)
intersects the first verb. From this we draw the "normative"
conclusion that a participle *can* be intersected by another verb in
the middle, even by another participle; no disocurse analysis is
necessary for that conclusion. If we find hundreds of examples of of
participles where not the end but the middle is focussed upon, we can
conclude that this is an important characteristic of the form. If we
go further and analyse *all* the occurences of the participle (we
need not even put much stress on whether the form is foreground or
background) and compare the results, we can find a generalization
that covers all the results of our analyses.
You can see my analysis of the participles below. First vertical
column: the passive participles, second column: the active
participles, third column: both participles, fourth column:
percentage of all participles.
PASSIVE ACTIVE TOTAL %
PAST 339 1406 1745 20,2
PRE-PAST 25 69 94 1,2
PERFECT 299 143 372 4,3
PRESENT 221 1772 1993 23,1
FUTURE 97 573 670 7,8
MODAL 74 66 138 1,6
GNOMIC 42 569 610 7,0
IMPERATIVE 3 5 8
SUBSTANT 304 2073 2377 27,5
ADJECTIVE 329 283 612 7,1
TOTAL 1733 6959 8 692
I have done exactly the same with the finite forms. I would like to
mention that the results of a simple discourse analysis of the 1.020
YIQTOLs with past reference, is that 889 of them have some word
element preceding them, and this element prevents them from from
getting a prefixed wa(y). If the word order was reversed, the verbs
would have preceded the mentioned word elements, and they would have
been written as WAYYIQTOLs. These YIQTOLs are of the same roots as
verbs realized as WAYYIQTOLS, and the context suggests that they have
the same aspect as their WAYYIQTOL counterparts. It is high time that
the fairy tales that the YIQTOLs with pase reference represent
"durative past" and have a different aspect compared with the
WAYYIQTOLs be abandoned!
So instead of being a linguistic back-packer, I suggest that you
study the smallest units of language, because this can establish *
verb meaning*; discourse analysis can only establish stylistics and
function, not meaning.
University of Oslo
>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?
>> -----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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