[b-hebrew] Agency

CS Bartholomew jacksonpollock at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 27 16:48:55 EST 2003

Been doing some reading on semantic functional analysis and as a test case
decided to examine how cause and agency are encoded in Biblical Hebrew.
Waltke/O'Conner (11.2.11d #12,#13) give examples of mn marking cause and

Gen. 9:11 whqmty )t bryty )tkM wl) ykrt kl b#r (wd mmy hmbwl wl) yhyh (wd
mbwl l#xt h)rC

Lev. 21:7 )#h znh wxllh l) yqxw w)#h grw#h m)y#h l) yqxw ky qd# hw) l)lhyw

How do we know that the original audience for this document would have
thought of m)y#h in Lev. 21:7 as the agent? Is it possible that the m)y#h
was understood as the source, i.e., the action grw#h proceeding from the man
in the direction of the woman? In other words can we state categorically
that the spatial notion is lost here and replaced with an abstraction like

The application of this same question to causation mmy hmbwl in Gen. 9:11
requires only a slight adjustment.

The purpose of this analysis is to come up with a series of semantic
functional categories that can be applied to both Hebrew and Greek (LXX) so
that semantic functional mapping onto surface structure can be studied in
terms of LXX/MT translation equivalents.

Clay Bartholomew 
Two books I am reading right now which deal with semantic functions are:

Chafe, Wallace L. 
Meaning and the Structure of Language
Chicago 1970 

Blake, Barry J. 
Case (Textbooks in Linguistics )
New York, NY, U.S.A.: Cambridge University Press, 1994. 

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