[b-hebrew] Lev 21:18 - Passive Participle

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Mon Oct 31 10:29:46 EST 2005


----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Kirk" <peter at qaya.org>
> On 30/10/2005 01:27, Karl Randolph wrote:
> > Peter:
> >
> > This brings up the question which trumps what? Does internal 
> > evidence trump cognate languages, or the other way around?
> >
> > If within Biblical Hebrew there is only one meaning evidenced for 
> > a lexeme, ...
> >
> There is no easy answer to your question. But there is an easy 
> answer to the question which is in fact relevant here: Does absence 
> of internal evidence trump evidence from cognate languages, or the 
> other way around? I don't see any way in which absence of evidence 
> can trump evidence!
There are times when absence of evidence is a lack, i.e. 
that a certain phenomenon existed but that we have yet to 
find evidence for it, and other times when it is evidence of 
lack, i.e. that the looked for phenomenon was never there 
in the first place. 

This is one of the cases IMO of the latter.

> ...
> > (Further, the two Arabic roots look as if they could have come 
> > originally from one root that first became dialectic differences, 
> > that later became phonemic.)
> >
> >
> All I can say is that there is no evidence that such processes have 
> ever happened in the Semitic languages, whose root structure is 
> extremely stable over millennia.
I had previously pointed to evidence that such processes 
possibly happened: where it has happened in other 
languages (from historical records), mechanisms of how it 
happened in those languages, and the clues that change 
left as it occurred. Then I looked at patterns within Semitic 
language family and see the same clues of change. This 
is where we disagree, and the lack of evidence (in the first 
sense above) prevents resolution of that disagreement.

> > The only way to resolve this disagreement is to find documents 
> > that show a development of Hebrew indicating that it originally 
> > had the extra sounds. So far there has been no sign of those 
> > documents. So we'll have to agree to disagree.
> >
> >
> >
> No, Karl, I will not agree to disagree, although I will not pursue 
> a pointless discussion for long. There is ample evidence available, 
> from cognate languages and from transliterations, for this 
> development of Hebrew, even though it is not in actual Hebrew 
> documents because the Hebrew alphabet never made this particular 
> distinction.
> -- Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/

What I have repeatedly claimed is that lack of evidence in 
Biblical Hebrew should often be understood in the second 
sense above, whereas almost universally it is understood 
in the first sense. This is my claim concerning the number 
of phonemes is Biblical Hebrew. This forms the one 
element of many of my disagreements with BDB and 
other modern lexicographers.

In this particular example, I agree with Jack that there is 
only one meaning for XRM evidenced in Biblical Hebrew. 
This forms a lack of evidence in the second sense above 
for multiple roots. Does this lack of evidence trump the 
evidence from Arabic? I say "Yes."

(Incidentally, I think there is a possible resolution between 
his and my understandings of the meaning. More later.)

I think a further discussion on XRM is pointless as long as 
we do not agree on the nature of "lack of evidence", and 
like you, I do not wish to drag it out where resolution will 
most likely not occur. It would not be fair to others on this 
mailing list.

Karl W. Randolph.

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