[b-hebrew] Re: Genitive categories
DrJDPrice at aol.com
DrJDPrice at aol.com
Tue Aug 31 17:55:28 EDT 2004
Perhaps I misunderstand you, because I find it hard to follow some of what
you say. First of all, not all information in genitive constructs is "old
information." It can be new information.
You are right, a genitive modifier can introduce what appears to be new
information. However, most modifiers contain old information, or at least
And what you are suggesting, that a clause element has dropped out, has to
be proved, not simply asserted.
Proof is beyond the scope of this list. However, the result of over 30 years
of research on this subject has given me considerable confidence in this
In English I can say that a fluffy cat played in the puddle. "Fluffy" is new
information but represents what a genitive construct may accomplish in
Hebrew. I can also say, "A cat is fluffy." But saying "a fluffy cat" is not a
reduction of "a cat is fluffy." Rather, "fluffy" is an adjective that can modify
a noun in this way. If one wants to change an attributive adjective into a
predicate adjective and add a verb, that is fine, but it does not alter the
original sentence structure or imply that the clause created was part of the
original sentence. Or if it does, it seems a truism to say that an adjective
predicates something about a noun.
You are getting the point. The phrase "a fluffy cat" may be considered
derived from the expression "a cat such that the cat was fluffy." Of course, this
example is rather trivial and uninteresting in isolation. Yet, when one finds
this phrase in a discourse, a curious reader will wonder why the author
thought the fluffiness of the cat was important enough to mention in his story.
The fluffiness becomes interesting only when he finds out its semantic
significance in the discourse.
Likewise, the little rule I introduced is rather uninteresting in isolation
from the linguistic theory that tries to explain how and why coherent
sentences, paragraphs, and discourse are generated in the mind of a writer, and how
one goes about intelligently extracting all the information contained in
meaningful discourse. The "S" in the rule coherently ties the phrase into the
semantics of the discourse.
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