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

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Wed Oct 6 12:36:27 EDT 2004

On Wednesday 06 October 2004 05:52, Peter Kirk wrote:
> On 06/10/2004 02:37, Dave Washburn wrote:
> >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.
> Regardless of whether SV(O) clauses are in some sense basic or are the
> result of some fronting process (especially if this occurs at a level
> deeper than that for which we have any direct evidence), they are
> exceedingly rare as surface forms (without the copula). Therefore we
> need to ask ourselves in what special contexts they occur (for example,
> are they relatively common at the start of direct speech, as here?), and
> what marked function (which in principle I suppose could be the lack of
> any other marking) they perform. And we need to ask the same about
> clauses with explicit pronoun subjects - except that with these there is
> I think no doubt that they are the marked forms. Then perhaps we can
> find the intersection between the two special functions and so elucidate
> what is happening in this verse.

Agreed.  If I may combine two people's comments, I think Harold may have 
something here regarding contrast.  As I read the context, that's the first 
idea that comes to my mind: "I was the one who did this, that and the other 
thing, not those idols your neighbors bow down to, yet you turned away from 
me and worshiped them.  I only asked you for one thing, and that was to 
worship me and not them, and you abandoned me anyway."

That's more or less where I come down on this question:  "Who did these things 
for you?  I did.  Did I ask for much in return?  No.  But you still dumped me 
at the first opportunity, and have continued to do so."

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

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