[b-hebrew] Inflexions?

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Tue Nov 18 14:55:59 EST 2003

Dear Trevor:

I wonder how many people in this mailing list are in the same situation as I? After I left school, about 35 years ago, all I had was the Tanakh and a couple of dictionaries, and no access to scholarly literature. To a large extent, that is still my situation, though the internet is starting to change things.

Before I saw it in a message on this list, I never heard of a Binyan. How does it differ from an inflexion? Now you mention a t-binyan: I thought from the context of its use I might understand binyan, but after your response I realize I don’t.

The class I attended had said that the verb is the root, a teaching strengthened by such as Davidson’s Analytical Lexicon, which listed all its entries under verb/roots. Now you say they are different, how and why? What’s the difference between a root and a stem?

What is the definitional difference between a Qal and Piel? The Hiphil and Hophal are recognizable in that they are causitive, the Hithpael in that it is reflexive. But what definitional pattern is there that lets me know when to use a Qal and when a Piel? The class I had was vague on this difference, and my reading hasn’t strengthened it. If anything, it weakened it. That’s why I asked my original question.

Other than the notation system (Qamets, Holem, Shewa, etc.), I don’t claim that the Masorites invented anything “out of thin air”. However, they invented their notation system to record a tradition as it existed close to a millennium after Hebrew ceased to be used in daily life, which leads me to question that tradition at times.

Are there online references that I can look up to spare you from having to answer these questions?

Thanks for your long answer. I’m sorry I didn’t understand it. The fault lies with me.

Karl W. Randolph.
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