[b-hebrew] Species of Genitive

C. Stirling Bartholomew jacksonpollock at earthlink.net
Sun Aug 29 17:24:59 EDT 2004


On 8/28/04 1:14 PM, "DrJDPrice at aol.com" <DrJDPrice at aol.com> wrote:

> Genitive noun phrases are derived from the following form of the above  rule:
> 
> N1|S(N1, N2) ==> N1 + N2(gen)
> 
> The content of S declares the relationship of N1 and N2, and is what is
> exegetically interesting. Sometimes S may lend itself to a category label, but
> often it doesn't, explaining why we have so much trouble with categories. I
> teach my students to forget categories and to look for S. This has been quite
> successful in getting students past the categories they learned in Greek, and
> into semantics of the text.
> 

Prof. Price,

This is an intriguing approach. I perhaps grasp about 60% of what you are
doing here. You are teaching your students to do semantic analysis rather
than play the game of pin the category on the constituent.

>The content of S declares the relationship of N1 and N2, and is what is
> exegetically interesting.

Yes and traditionalists want us to define these relationships into discreet
little bundles and give them names (tags). The obsession with the discreet
little bundles becomes a stumbling block to learning the language.

**********

To change the subject, a well informed list member has reminded me offlist
that my position on the genitive is somewhat extreme, i.e., that the
genitive contributes nothing semantic to a clause. I will admit that this is
extreme. My reply: 

>>>>>

You are right of course I have overstated my case on purpose to get the
discussion heated up a little. The semantic significance of the genitive is
very elusive so just as an exploratory exercise I argue as if it is
nonexistent. In light of the abuses in the current grammars (Greek more than
Hebrew) this is a useful exercise; exposing weakness in the traditional
approach. 

The process is a dialectic where I take an impossible position and then
defend it against Harold Holmyard and others. My working model isn't as
extreme as the position I take to get the argument going.


take for example:

my Brother
my car
my computer
my dog
my life
my time
my job
my country

I don't see how the genitive case contributes to the semantics of these.
Each example activates a different semantic framework (cognitive frame) and
the distinctions are not IMHO related to genitiveness at all. I can't see
how one can argue that "my brother" illustrates a "quite specific" meaning
of the genitive since the word brother activates the semantic framework of
family relationships, that "quite specific" meaning comes from that
framework and the genitive takes it color from that framework according to
the principles of relevance and inference. It changes color according to its
surroundings but it does not bring color with it.
 
********

However, I will admit that the Hebrew genitive has some sort of semantic
properties that distinguish it from the "nominative" and "accusative."  It
would be useless to argue otherwise. But the traditonal approach of naming
categories to define constituents like:

my Brother
my car
my computer
my dog
my life
my time
my job
my country

is IMHO counter productive. It obfuscates rather than clarifies.

greetings,
Clay Bartholomew 
 





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