[b-hebrew] Inflexions?

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Thu Nov 20 18:12:57 EST 2003


Dear Peter:

> If Karl can't tell the difference between giving birth and acting as a 
> midwife, do we need to start with the birds and the bees?

LOL! Wait till I tell my kids (“Uh…, kids…, it looks as if I’m not your father…”).

Seriously, this question has raised some rather interesting, even apparently contradictory, responses. Hiphil and Hophal clearly have the causitive sense, Hithpael reflexive, but what is the distinction between Qal and Piel? One, off line response, said that the difference was between that of transitive and intransitive verbs (in which case, many verbs are incorrectly pointed). If the Piel is causitive, then what’s the difference between it and Hiphil? Other times some say it is the same as Qal.

I believe that languages are basically simple that can be mastered by children, except for rare, specialized cases. If the Piel is to be recognized in a case by case basis, then it fails the child masterable test. So what I am looking for is a test that I can apply consistently from verb to verb. Knowing such a test would also make it easier to recognize definitions in the contexts that verbs are found.

A followup question after your helpful response and that of Ken Penner, could the Piel represent instrumentality? In the case of a midwife, one who helps in the birth. In the case of BQ( I’m not sure what the difference is. In the case of XLH again it looks like a form of instrumentality. Any thoughts?

Karl W. Randolph.
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