[b-hebrew] We and us

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sun Nov 12 14:52:15 EST 2006

On 11/12/06, Yigal Levin wrote:

> Does anyone think that there is a semantic or any other difference
> is use or meaning between "anu" and "anaxnu"? Or, for that matter,
> between "ani" and "anokhi"? Are they used in different genres, are
> they preferred by different literary sources?

Dear Yigal,

It is my impression that the word "anu" is used in the MT only in chapters
whose number conveys the answer to life, the universe, and everything
and then only in verses that evenly divide the chapter number to 7, and
only in books of both a prophetic and historical genre written during the
very late Monarchy or early exilic periods.

Looking at this one particular instance, Jer 42:6 where )nw appears in
the katib, I think it is possible to suggest that )nw may be the dual
first person personal pronoun.  John Huehnergard's article on Afro-asiatic
does not identify a dual first person personal pronoun, but identifies the
plural pronoun as "nixnu(:)".    The nominative suffix, which in general
is suffixed to ")an" to create the independent pronoun is suggested as
an uncertain "nuya:".  With these two examples, it may be possible to
suggest: *)an + *nuya: = *)annuya > *)annuwa, written as ")nw".  The
context in Jer 42 also seems to me to suggest it, since while a multitude
is mentioned as "speaking", only two individuals are explicitly named. In
Jer 42:5, the pronoun hemmɔ is used.  I have in the past researched a
bit the possibility that hemmɔ is a third person dual pronoun but my
conclusion was that it wasn't.  However, it may have been originally so
and the stage shown by Biblical Hebrew is a later stage in which it no
longer functions as a dual but retains traces that show its derivation
from a dual form.  Both Daniel Sivan and Dennis Pardee agree that
neither the dual nor plural first person independent pronouns are used
in Ugaritic.

One could also ask about the difference between anaxnu and naxnu? Is
that governed by some semantic, phonetic, or other rule?

Yitzhak Sapir

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list