[b-hebrew] lexicography

CS Bartholomew jacksonpollock at earthlink.net
Sun Nov 16 13:01:42 EST 2003


Trevor,

On 11/15/03 2:12 PM, "Trevor Peterson" <06peterson at cua.edu> wrote:

> Looking at its relationship to other words can
> help provide some reasonable guesses.

Yes, and a certain percentage of the time this appears to work with words
where there is sufficient usage data to determine meaning. But this is a
shot in the dark with hapaxlegomona and other rare words.

On a slightly different but related track let me quote from an article by
Reinier de Blois*

-------quote-----
Another interesting issue that relates to this concerns the so-called
binyanim or stem formations. Even though the semantic relationship between
the verb root and each of its stem formations can, to a certain extent, be
predicted, research has shown that we can only make some general statements
about this that by no means apply to all instances. My research in this
field has made me conclude that these different stem formations are of
little use for lexicographical purposes. There are simply too many
exceptions to the rule. There are too many cases where a niphŒal or a
hiphŒil has the same meaning as a qal. In short, this system gives us only a
limited insight in the semantic structure of events in biblical Hebrew.

If, therefore, we are looking for cognitive categories for events in
biblical Hebrew, the system of binyanim as such does not offer us much help.
-------end quote-----
  
The statement "Even though the semantic relationship between the verb root
and each of its stem formations can, to a certain extent, be predicted ... "
undermines the notion that semantic function and semantic content of a verb
form can be determined by applying a set of transformation rules** to the
verb root.   

This is just one case in point, demonstrating the inherent weakness of
looking to the root form for aid in lexical semantics.

greetings,
Clay Bartholomew 
 

*A SEMANTIC DICTIONARY OF  BIBLICAL HEBREW, Reinier de Blois
AFRETCON BAGAMOYO 2002, section 4.2.1.2 Events paragraph 3.

**Transformation rules has nothing to do with "Transformational Grammar."





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