[b-hebrew] Re: deriving stems (was:

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Wed Nov 12 12:54:14 EST 2003


>===== Original Message From Naama Zahavi-Ely <nxzaha at wm.edu> =====
>Speaking as a native speaker of (Modern) Hebrew, this is not actually
>true.  Native speakers of Hebrew -- and I assume other Semitic languages --
>regularly invent inflections of verb roots by stems to convey new meanings
>and nuances.  So do children who grow up speaking Hebrew, as a natural
>stage in the learning of speech.    Such inventions are readily understood
>and sometimes enter the regular spoken language.

Interesting. This doesn't seem to agree with what I've seen from others. 
Perhaps it's simply a question of emphasis. In English we also construct new 
words according to identifiable patterns from other words, but this is quite a 
bit different from what happens when we inflect words on a regular basis. When 
you call this activity "regular," would you say that it is done in a manner 
comparable to the way you would inflect a word (say, choosing past, present, 
or future tense), or is there more of a consciousness that you are actually 
inventing a new word for convenience? When you say they "sometimes enter the 
regular spoken language," it makes me think of the latter.

Trevor Peterson
CUA/Semitics




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