[b-hebrew] Inflexions?

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Fri Nov 21 20:45:59 EST 2003


Thanks for your response, also that of Julie and Rasmus Underbjerg Pinnerup.

On second thought, you are probably correct in that there is not one rule, in the same way as the Hithpael is reflexive in two different senses, one in action and the other in feigning that action or state.

Similarly, the rules defining the Piel may be multiple and not just one. For example, I noticed what appears to be instrumentality in some uses, another BQ( means to split open in Qal but Piel to split apart (as in splitting wood for a fire), similarly $BR has a meaning very close to the English “break” (even to the point that waves on the sea are called M$BR breakers while in birth it refers to the breaking of the water bag) the Piel is to break apart (not quite the same as NPC to break up (into small pieces), PCC to shatter (with heavy blows), R$$ to smash). It looks as if there are as many as four or five, and a few irregular verbs to make it interesting. Such a pattern is still “child masterable”.

Just to call Piel intensive Qal is meaningless. That’s what I was taught too.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya.org>
> >...
> >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.
> >  
> >
> But languages do have irregular verbs which have to be recognised on a 
> case by case basis. Not just dead languages like Latin, Greek and 
> Hebrew, but modern ones as well. Try Russian for a good crop of them. Or 
> try English - we native speakers don't realise how irregular it is! Yet 
> Russian and English are child masterable, though not easily. There is no 
> reason to expect Hebrew to be any simpler.
> >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.
> >  
> >
> I just don't believe that there is any single simple distinction. 
> Whether or not words have a single "core meaning", the grammatical 
> category Piel doesn't seem to have a "core meaning". This is clear not 
> just from ancient Hebrew but from modern Semitic languages like Arabic 
> where the corresponding "stem" forms are easily seen not to have clearly 
> defined semantics.
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
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