[b-hebrew] The spice of lexicography: Human Sacrifice
kwrandolph at email.com
Sat Oct 22 10:55:20 EDT 2005
Years ago I was informed that looking at words by their
roots was traditional lexicography for Hebrew, and that
19th century lexicographers merely continued that
The problem is that the extant corpus of Biblical Hebrew
is so limited that many of the roots are not expressed,
secondly is that many lexemes are so constructed that
they could stem from one of two or more roots and when
looking at the word itself it is not obvious which root it
stems from (one use of a word can be from one root, then
the next use, even just a few verses further along, can
stem from a different root, but the spelling is identical for
both uses), thirdly it doesn't take into account language
shifts over time, fourthly it could be part of an idiomatic
phrase or complex lexeme which often has a drastically
different meaning than the words that make up such,
therefore defining "by the roots" can be misleading. On
the other hand, where the root is clearly recognizable
and attested to, recognizing root meanings sometimes
can be very helpful in recognizing what the text says.
Therefore, if you use roots, use with caution.
Karl W. Randolph.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Kirk" <peterkirk at qaya.org>
> On 21/10/2005 23:15, Read, James C wrote:
> > That would be a call to me. Now then! Where shall I start.
> > The most major failing of lexicography IMO is to force readers to
> > search words under their routes, which not only complicates things
> > for the untrained reader but is also downright misleading.
> I think you mean "roots". To be fair to lexicographers, this was a
> failing of 19th century lexicography which has not, I think, been
> repeated in the 99 years since BDB was published.
> -- Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
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