[b-hebrew] Boring grammar again

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Wed May 11 14:29:02 EDT 2005

Dear George:

Actually, the word for pain is K)B / כאב

עצבון / (CBWN is a noun derived from the root meaning to do sorrowful, heavy labor that causes one to be worn out and in pain (both mental and physical). Hence the noun refers to heavy, sorrowful labor. What are the noun equivelants to Qal, Piel etc.? I haven’t really compared those yet. (The Chinese equivelant is “gwoo lik” (bitter strength) from which we get “cooly” as in cooly labor.)

As for the noun suffixes, I already pointed out that there seems to be four meanings to the -H suffix, or five if you include indicating feminine, so what possible meanings are there for the -WN suffix? Is the -T suffix the same as the -H suffix? Does the M- prefix indicate causality? What about the T- prefix? Does not the shegolate form indicate an object acted upon, while a nominal use of a participle the actor listing also his action?

I just looked up in a concordance for uses of GR$ / גרש  If it were not for the Masoretic points, it appears that the Qal is not well attested to in B-Hebrew. From the consonants alone and in context, five of the eight claimed Qals would be recognized as nouns, two others could just as well be Piels, leaving only one Qal to compare against over thirty Piels. That’s too small a sample to recognize shades of meaning. And even that one Qal appears to be a nominal use of the root, leaving no Qals. 

Now do you see why I want examples where the Qal, Piel and Hiphil are all well attested to?

In short, I am looking for how the action indicated by the Piel differs from the action indicated by the Qal and by the Hiphil? Almost universally, the Hiphil seems to be a simple causative of the Qal, but Piel differs from them both. From its consonental form, it is seldom recognizable from Qal, therefore it has to be recognizable from context. It could be that there are no terms from western grammar that describe the difference. Was there any discussion about this in premodern Hebrew grammars? Anything pre-Masoretic? If so, what did they say? It could be that Piel stood for more than one meaning. But so far the only meaning I have seen attested to in Tanakh is bringing a state into being, such as an expression דבר / DBR or a state of lostness that the person or object cannot be found אבד / ABD.

Thanks again for your help.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "George Athas" <gathas at hotkey.net.au>
> Hi Karl!
> Thanks for your comments about DBR meaning expression -- they are 
> very helpful.
> I'm not denying that Piel usually conveys the notion of bringing a 
> state into being. I was just trying to capture all that the Piel 
> pattern does with one label. Perhaps 'heightened' action is not the 
> best label. The basic pattern of doubled second radical and no 
> added intrinsic consonant (by intrinsic consonant I mean things 
> like the nun-prefix for the Niphal) generally does convey a 
> heightening or formalising of the concept, whether it's in a verbal 
> or nominal form.
> A nominal form which comes to mind in the word Nwbc( in God's curse 
> of the woman with regards childbearing in Gen 3. The standard word 
> for 'pain' is something like bc( in the segholate form. The 
> reference to Nwbc(, though, is an intensive form (something like 
> 'pain-arama').
> In verbal terms, you might compare the Qal and Piel of the root 
> GR$. The Qal means something like 'drive out' or 'cast out', but 
> the Piel has a heightened or more formalised meaning, something 
> like 'banish', 'expel' or 'evict'.
> In sum, while Piel is predominantly used for the causation of a 
> state, it does not solely mean this. It generally indicates a 
> heightened or formalised action. Perhaps there is a better word 
> someone might come up with which is more suitable and helpful?
> Best Regards,
> (Sydney, Australia)

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