[b-hebrew] Deut. 4:10 )$r

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Fri Oct 8 10:05:07 EDT 2004

Dear Clay,

I read the "Headlessness and Extraposition" paper and was not 
convinced. Holmstedt's results seemed poorer than the normal view of 
the clauses. There is less intelligence expressed by his 
alternatives. One discussion he had, where he preferred "when" to 
"if," seems empty since "when" and "if" can be functional 
substitutes. The 1 Kings 3:12 example seemed particularly odd (God 
already viewed Solomon as unique). The better solution seems to be to 
regard )$R as a linking word that is open to a number of functions 
depending on the context. Yes, I like the final/result interpretation 
of )$R in Deut 4:10.

The leftward shift versus rightward shift distinction is new to me 
and did not seem to mean much. What difference does it make which 
direction one sees the phrases shifting? A person conceives a 
sentence in his mind to keep words near other related words. Couldn't 
one might shift words either direction? The leftward versus rightward 
concept seems to build on the notion of a set grammatical sentence 
skeleton, but I am not sure that there is such a thing. Take this 

We met a man on the street who was wearing a yellow suit.

The argument was that this is really leftward movement of "on the 
street" rather than rightward movement of "who was wearing a yellow 
suit." What skeleton demands that the movement be leftward or 
rightward? To have "on the street" at the end would create ambiguity. 
The point is certainly not to say that "a man was wearing a yellow 
suit on the street." I guess the distinction was not even necessary 
to Holmstedt's concept of extraposition in Hebrew. But the shifts he 
shows in Hebrew actually seem to be rightward from an English 

And to Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, who 
Asenath bore to him.

The relative clause at the end of the sentence seems to have been 
moved rightward, rather than "before the years of famine came" being 
moved leftward. And the issue is that "before the famine came" 
modifies "were born" rather than "bore." The words might seem to 
modify "bore" if they were at the end of the sentence. But really 
nothing seems to have been moved rightward or leftward, since the 
information about Asenath is extra data that doesn't fit into the 
structure of the main clause.

				Harold Holmyard

>R. Holmstedt* argues that )$r does not introduce final/result clauses contra
>Waltke/O'Conner #38.3b.1. How would you read the function of )$r in:
>Deut. 4:10  w)$m(M )t-dbry )$r ylmdwN lyr)h )ty
>What do you folks think of this?
>Holmstedt papers are available here:
>  http://www.uwm.edu/%7Erdholmst/CV.htm
>While I have no more sympathy for minimalism after reading four of
>Holmstedt's papers than I had previously, I will say that they are well
>written and  worth reading and certainly some response from the linguists on
>this list concerning his main thesis in "Headlessness and Extraposition"
>would beneficial for the rest of us.
>* 2001. " Headlessness and Extraposition: Another Look at the   Syntax of
>[asher]."  Journal   of Northwest Semitic Languages 27(1):1-16.

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