[b-hebrew] 1Kings 3:19 )$r a relative?

C. Stirling Bartholomew jacksonpollock at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 11 13:20:12 EDT 2004

On 10/10/04 11:48 AM, "C. Stirling Bartholomew"
<jacksonpollock at earthlink.net> wrote:

> 1Kings 3:19 wymt bN-h)$h hz)t lylh )$r $kbh (lyw
> So what do you think? Is  )$r introducing a relative clause in 1Kings 3:19?
> For Holmstedt's treatment see page 13 of his paper*.

This is what Holmstedt* has to say about  )$r in 1Kings 3:19:

Note (32) is a reference to 1Kings 3:19

"In (32), the head that the extraposed relative modifies is the noun phrase
son. The extraposed relative appears to be non-restrictively modifying the
head in that it provided additional information which is unnecessary for
identifying the referent of son (the head noun phrase son is already
identified by virtue of the construct relationship with this woman). The
relative clause is in fact providing the cause of death; the point is,
however, that syntactically it is more economical to analyze the rva clause
as a relative even if we render it as a causal clause in translation."

It would appear that Holmstedt is capitalizing on a feature common to
reference grammars on biblical languages. A strict division of semantic and
syntactic functions is not always maintained.  Purpose, cause, result ...
are these not semantic functional labels? If )$r clause in 1Kings 3:19 is
analyzed syntactically as a relative clause in may still function
semantically as a causal modifier of wymt.

I agree with Holmstedt that we ought to keep these issues sorted out. This
is just one aspect of Holmstedt's project so don't jump on me for
trivializing what he is saying :-)

But what about extraposition? Is "extraposition" some sort of silver bullet?

Holmstedt* states:
"Recognizing the concept of extraposition allows us to analyze many more )$r
clauses as relative clauses."

>From the SIL site: 
> What is extraposition?
> Definition 
> Extrapostion is the process or result of moving  an element from its normal
> place to a place at  the end or near to the end of a sentence.
> Example 
> The plumber arrived who we had called earlier .(who we had called earlier has
> been extraposed from its normal position after plumber.)
> Source 
> Crystal 1997 

The introduction of other constituents between the antecedent and a relative
clause isn't a cause for wonder in Ancient Greek. Is it in Biblical Hebrew?
I would assume that the authors of the standard reference grammars in BH are
thoroughly familiar with this issue even though they may not use the term
extraposition. So the implication that extraposition is some sort new data
and a key to understanding the use of )$r falls to the floor IMHO. The key
has been around for quite a while.

I have found the reading of this and the other articles by Holmstedt well
worth the time invested. I think he has potentially identified a weakness in
the way we talk about the syntax )$r. However, the minimalist framework is
going to blow a lot of smoke in peoples eyes and make it hard for them to
accept the valid observations presented herein.

Clay Bartholomew 
 *page 13,  2001. " Headlessness and Extraposition: Another Look at the
Syntax of [asher]."  Journal   of Northwest Semitic Languages 27(1):1-16.
 Holmstedt papers are available here:

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