[b-hebrew] "Species" of the Genitive Waltke/O'Connor

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sat Aug 28 14:02:42 EDT 2004

On 28/08/2004 18:14, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:

> Dear Clay,
>> Waltke/O'Connor 9.5.1 #6
>> Jer 1:2
>> dbr-yhwh
>> W/O call this a genitive of authorship.
>> My question. Does this genitive *mean* authorship? Should we let a 
>> student
>> think that this genitive *means* authorship?
> HH: I said earlier that the various kinds of genitive uses can be 
> debated, and the categorization of a particular instance to a specific 
> category can be, too. That is one of the issues of interpretation: 
> which of the possible uses of the genitive is appropriate in this 
> case? But I think that example W/O 9.5.1 #7 shows that the construct 
> genitive can indicate authorship. Perhaps the example in 9.5.1 #6 
> could be more of a possessive genitive or genitive of source, 
> especially since we think of Jeremiah as the author of the Book of 
> Jeremiah, not God. But Waltke and O'Connor by their definition more or 
> less allow that: "that G wrote, spoke, or otherwise originated C."
>> This genitive has a syntax function. It binds two constituents 
>> together. The
>> semantic significance of the relationship between the two 
>> constituents is
>> not indicated in any way, shape or form by the genitive.
> HH: Actually, it is in the sense that the genitive has a range of 
> known functions. The nominative has a different range of functions. So 
> one can expect the relationship between the two terms to reflect one 
> of the known relationships expressed by the genitive. Peter advises 
> that students read a great deal, and he is right, but that might be 
> the answer to most grammatical questions. Until one knows the language 
> extremely well, charts and lists and categories can all be of assistance.

This issue sounds more like one of reference than of meaning. If I write 
"Harold posted this, and I replied to him", the word "him" does not 
*mean* Harold but it *refers* to Harold, and that reference is 
determined by the context. "Him" can refer to many entities (male people 
and animals etc) but not to others (females, inanimate objects etc) 
which must be referred to by a different form. Similarly, the alleged 
"genitive of authorship" does not *mean* authorship, but this genitive 
does appear to *refer* to authorship in this context. Similarly, 
genitives can refer to many functions, but not to others which are 
referred to by other grammatical forms.

But then perhaps *refer* is not quite the right word for semantic functions.

By the way, I would advise extensive reading as the best way to learn 
most grammar, beyond the very basic morphology which must be learned to 
make any sense of any connected text. But even the basic morphology 
should be learned from short sentences rather than paradigms.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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