[b-hebrew] Pronoun )nky in Judg. 6:8

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Tue Oct 5 17:37:41 EDT 2004

On Tuesday 05 October 2004 15:17, C. Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
> Judg. 6:8 wy$lx yhwh )y$ nby) )l-bny y&r)l wy)mr lhM kh-)mr yhwh )lhy y&r)l
> )nky h(lyty )tkM mmcryM w)cy) )tkM mbyt (bdyM
> The "clause"  ... )nky h(lyty )tkM mmcryM ... looks exceedingly innocent to
> the untrained eye, an explicit pronominal subject before a finite verb.
> However, while working my way once again through "Fronting"  R.Holmstedt*,
> I came across a discussion of Judg. 6:8 in another place**.
> What can we say about  )nky ? Well using a somewhat lazy definition of
> "focus" I would suggest that  )nky points the reader to what is important
> about the following clause. What is important is who did it. The preverbal
> pronoun focuses the readers attention on the _who_ not the _what_. Without
> this pronoun, the _what_ would fall into the new information slot. With the
> preverbal pronoun, the new information slot moves.

The biggest problem I see with this idea is that, like so many others, he 
assumes that the basal constituent order in Hebrew is V - S, which may or may 
not be the case.  Most of the grammars out there assume this order mainly 
because the wayyiqtol form is so prevalent in the HB, and this form is always 
clause-initial.  But there is strong evidence that it is a "derived" form 
(for lack of a better term) that has in fact itself been "fronted," and the 
basal order in Heb. is S - V - (O).  If this is the case, then we don't 
really have a pronoun being "fronted" here.  Since this is the first clause 
in a section of direct speech, it would appear to me that it simply 
identifies the new speaker.  Whether that puts emphasis on the "who" rather 
than the "what" is another issue, more involved with pragmatics than with 
syntax.  Or so ISTM.

Dave Washburn
"No good.  Hit on head."   -Gronk

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