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

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Thu Nov 13 15:02:19 EST 2003

As a lexicographer, there are two approaches I have seen utilized in Hebrew-English dictionaries: the first is to indicate words into English that make the smoothest reading in English including for each inflextion, the second is to try to indicate as best as possible the Hebrew meaning no matter how awkward it sounds in English. The latter approach utilizes the inflextions to narrow down the core meaning of the Hebrew word. BDB, Gesenius and almost every dictionary utilize the former approach. The former approach makes it harder to see the inflextional pattern.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: Trevor Peterson <06PETERSON at cua.edu>

> >===== 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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