[b-hebrew] Hebrew and English word order

David Gray david_gray at sil.org
Fri Jul 8 05:22:17 EDT 2005


"...play by different sets of rules"

Completely different, or more like Rugby Union vs. Rugby League? Or Rugby vs. American Football? My understanding is that both literary critics and linguists carry out some kind of discourse analysis, only they come at the story or text from a different angle. Literary critics are much more interested in characterisation (compare 'participant reference') - and their first step often overlaps with that of linguists. It is when they start to apply their findings that we really notice differences in approach. Linguists don't tend to worry about the motives of characters, whether the characters come across as good or bad, mimesis or 'gaps'. Both linguists and literary critics are interested in 'major' and 'minor' participants, however (though again, literary critics use different terminology).

Anyway, in principle why shouldn't a linguist critique a literary critic's translation? It is there to be criticised, from any angle a reader (academic or not) chooses.

I also had a few questions to do with de Regt's criticism of the 'Noah walked with God' line. It seems to me to be so short that English can't do much with it. 'It was with God that Noah walked' would work, but only by adding several words. And it doesn't fit the cotext very well. The contrast is found in the first phrase about Noah finding favour in the eyes of the LORD v8 not in our phrase in v9. We could suggest 'Noah walked <with God>' using italics? As you say, ’In English the focus element is often marked by vocal emphasis and it can be clause final.'

Over to you, David Gray

david_gray at sil.org

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of C. Stirling Bartholomew
Sent: 07 July 2005 06:34
To: David Kummerow; b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Hebrew and English word order

On 7/6/05 7:25 PM, "David Kummerow" <farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com> wrote:

> de Regt is no "house painter" (to use your words). You could say his
> critique is "from the inside", as one "artist" to another.


It was a poor analogy. My understanding is that Alter is a literary critic
and de Regt a linguist-philologist translation consultant.  It does strike
me strange that a linguist would 'bother' to take aim at a literary critic.
Linguists and literary critics play by different sets of rules and it seems
like a dubious project to measure Alter's work against the rules of
information structure framework in functional grammar. Perhaps not. I am
reading he article now.

On page 118 de Regt faults Alter for "Noah walked with God" Gen 6:9. Here
Noah is set in contrast to everyone else and de Regt claims that Alter to be
consistent with his stated policy should have translated this "With God Noah

Two questions come to mind. Alter's stated purpose includes "... stylistic
and rhythmic integrity as literary English". I don't think "With God Noah
walked" meets this criteria. L. de Reqt is suggesting that "With God Noah
walked" reflects the information structure of the Hebrew Text placing the
focus element up front. But I don't think this is how English would handle
this. In English the focus element is often marked by vocal emphasis and it
can be clause final.

Clay Bartholomew 

b-hebrew mailing list
b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list