[b-hebrew] Boring grammar again
furuli at online.no
Sat May 7 01:49:40 EDT 2005
You have already received several good answers from others, and I would
like to add a few thoughts. The Sumerian language is a so-called
split-ergative language, which means that in some cases the author
thinks along the lines of a grammatical analysis: subject, verbal,
object, indirect object etc, and in other cases he thinks along the
lines of a semantical analysis: agent and patient. This teaches us a
lesson, because we can (and should) approach languages such as classical
Hebrew both from the viewpoint of a grammatical and a semantical
analysis. The difference is seen in 1) and 2) below. In both examples
"God" is the agent and "the earth" is the patient. But in 1) "God" is
the subject and "the earth" is the object, whil in 2) "The earth" is the
subject. So the two ways of doing analysis approaches the text from
1) God created the earth.
2) The earth was created by God.
The best discussion of Piel of which I know, is found in
Waltke/O'Connor. I teach my students that the Hebrew binyanim can be
subsumed under the heading "diathesis," because the differences are
basically differences between agent and patient. This is readily seen in
the active/passive opposition (Qal-Niphal/passive Qal (but remember that
Niphal once basically had a reflexive meaning, and still often has in
the Tanakh), Piel-Pual, and Hiphil/Huphal), but is also seen in Piel,
Hithpael, and Hiphil when these are analyzed in their own right. As
already mentioned by others, Hiphil stresses action while Piel stresses
state. This can also be expressed in the agent/patient relationship. In
Hiphil (basically, but not always) the agent causes the patient to do
something. One important side of Piel is that the agent leads the
patient through the end of an action and into a resulting state (with a
stress on the state). This is Piel's resultative force. In other cases
the agent leads the patient directly into a state. This is Piel's
factitive force. Another force of Piel is that the agent works om
multiple patiens. We should not forget that Piel also has a denominative
force: when nouns are made into verbs, Piel is often the binyan that is
used. Whether Piel has an intensive force, which was the basic
explanation some years ago, is an open question. And I agree with you,
Karl, it is difficult to postulate an intensive force of Piel verbs
without circular reasoning. Please note that Waltke/O'Connor gives
alternative explanations of the best examples used to prove the
intensive force of Piel.
When I read texts from one of the Semitic languages with my students I
consciously consider whether one of the explanations above can be
applied in cases of Piel (and D-stems in other languages), And it always
seems to work. In any case, several students have expressed that they
have found the agent-patient model (diathesis) as a fine help for
understanding and distinguishing between the binyanim.
University of Oslo
Karl Randolph wrote:
>At the risk of sounding stupid or just unable to learn, here is a question that is bugging me, what exactly is the Piel? I’ve brought it up before: either I am too stupid to understand the answers that several of you put forward, or I found that there is still some contradiction from the answers I got.
>Back in Hebrew 101, the only class I took, I was taught that there was Qal, simple active, with Niphal as its passive, Piel as intensive Qal with Pual as its passive, Hiphil as causative with Hophal as its passive, ending with Hithpael as reflexive with the object being the same as the subject.
>Now here’s my problem: after reading Tanakh through a few times without points, I find no evidence for the Piel according to the above grammatical structure. There are no contextual clues that I have found that indicate the intensive Qal. From my experience, all the other binyanim fit the above pattern, but Piel and its passive Pual don’t seem to fit anywhere.
>Peter Kirk and others have pointed out that Piel in modern Hebrew has a causative meaning. If that is also the case for B-Hebrew, what is the difference between the Piel and the Hiphil? What contextual clues indicate that difference? In this scenario, both Piel and Hiphil are causative.
>Now one option is that the Piel is just an alternate conjugation for Qal. That would explain the lack of contextual clues. Conversely, it could be an alternate conjugation for Hiphil.
>Are there any verbs where the uses in Qal and Piel are split about 50-50? Are there any where the uses are split about 50-50 between Piel and Hiphil? Verbs where all the uses except once or twice are one or the other could be an indication of scribal error. Further, if the once or twice is a Piel or Pual participle, those could be alternate spellings for Hiphil or Hophal participles, given the fluid spellings at that time. I could find out the above data myself, but if someone has already done it, why not take advantage of his scholarship?
>Of course, we can’t leave out the possibility that I’m just dense. If that’s the case, please excuse me for boring you all (though then I’m too dense to recognize my own denseness).
>Thanks again, Karl W. Randolph.
More information about the b-hebrew