[b-hebrew] lexicography

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Mon Nov 17 00:36:10 EST 2003


CS Bartholomew:

It has been years since I last read Tanakh using a pointed text, but I know many times the only way one can recognize which form is being used is from the context and/or points, the consonants alone do not always indicate which form to read. I wonder how many times I read a verb as a Qal when the Masorites pointed it as a niphal, or possibly even as a Hiphil? Or reversed? If the context calls for a passive and the consonental verb form could be read equally well as either a Qal or Niphal, I read it as a Niphal. Where the consonents could be read as a verb or a noun, and the context calls for a noun, I read it as a noun. And so forth.

Where the consonants do indicate the verbal form, I find them very useful for lexicography, in contrast to Reinier de Blois quoted below. My research indicates just the opposite.

This is not to claim that it helps in every case, but it helps in far more cases than not.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: CS Bartholomew <jacksonpollock at earthlink.net>

> 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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