[b-hebrew] Hebrew and English word order

C. Stirling Bartholomew threetreepoint at earthlink.net
Thu Jul 7 13:24:21 EDT 2005

On 7/7/05 4:15 AM, "Peter Kirk" <peterkirk at qaya.org> wrote:

> ... it is simply impossible to render all
> of the information structure of Hebrew into English simply by word order.


L. de Regt seems to be suggesting an intentional (authorial intent) contrast
in the word order between Gen 5:22,24 and Gen 6:9 making note of the
movement of "with God" from clause final to clause initial position. I have
some lingering doubts about this. There is a span of text between 5:24 and
6:9. It does not seem at all obvious that this contrast exists. Nor does it
seem obvious that the fronted "with God" in 6:9 marks contrastive or
restrictive focus. As R.Buth has pointed out more than once, restricting the
pre-verbal slot to topic or focus is unjustifiably mechanical.

Further on (p117) L. de Regt faults Alter for his translation of Gen. 14:18

"And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine".

 L. de Regt argues that the clause initial Melchizedek (Hebrew text) is the
point of departure. Then he faults Alter for making Melchizedek clause
initial in English which according to de Regt marks it as contrastive or
restrictive focus. There seem to be two problems here. The most obvious
problem is de Regt's analysis of the English information structure. It isn't
valid to say that placing the subject of the verb in clause initial position
marks it as contrastive or restrictive focus. This placement of Melchizedek
is unmarked English word order.

The second problem is more complicated. How can "Melchizedek king of Salem"
be a point of departure when he is introduced here for the first time. L. de
Regt answers this question but ... what do the rest of you think?

Clay Bartholomew 
Just saw the bad news from London. :-(

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