[b-hebrew] lexicography

Trevor Peterson 06peterson at cua.edu
Sun Nov 16 16:58:52 EST 2003

Clay wrote:
> The qualification  "Taken together with contextual clues ..." 
> changes everything. When discussing the use of "root" as 
> lexical semantic evidence the question only becomes 
> controversial in cases where there is very little supporting 
> evidence from the context and the "root" or a similar form 
> from a cognate language is used because there is nothing else 
> to go on.

You seem to be trying hard to eliminate a relevant category of cases.
"Very little" is not the same as none (at least, I wouldn't think so).
Yet you go on to describe apparently the same situation as containing
"nothing else to go on." Sometimes "very little supporting evidence from
the context" is more than we can hope for. But in the relatively
frequent situations (I'm thinking here especially of poetic contexts)
where we have some idea from context, but not enough to provide much
clarity when taken alone, tracing the derivation of the word in question
can be helpful. And toward that end, it can be useful to at least make
the attempt to pin down regular patterns where we find them. That's all
I'm trying to say. I'm hardly what I would consider a major advocate for
the study of derivational morphology!

Trevor Peterson

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