[b-hebrew] Re: Genitive categories

DrJDPrice at aol.com DrJDPrice at aol.com
Tue Aug 31 17:55:28 EDT 2004

Harold Holmyard:
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  
understood information. 
 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.
Jim Price

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