[b-hebrew] We and us

David Kummerow farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Tue Nov 14 04:15:34 EST 2006

Sure, part of our problem is that we will always remain at a distance 
from the language: we are neither native speakers, nor do we have access 
to native speakers. For me, this is where the functional-typological 
method is so helpful (for others, generative grammar, etc) as it helps 
to narrow the options, provide alternatives, offer critique, etc. 
Because language grammaticalisation follows certain pathways, it is 
helpful in the analysis of "dead" languages. Two competing theories can 
be assessed for which has more validity (see Cynthia Miller's essay in 
_The Future of Biblical Archaeology_, for example).

Regarding the issue of politeness distinctions in pronouns (I assume 
here that Revell's earlier account has more validity than his later 
appeal to a vague "immediate/non-immediate" distinction), known 
languages can develop this opposition in the first-person, but they do 
only after the opposition is first expressed in the second- and 
third-person pronouns. This observation can be expressed as an 
implicational hierarchy: 2 < 3 < 1. Helmbrecht demonstrates that the 
grammaticalisation of politeness distinctions in the first-person is 
from a number of options: nouns denoting "servant" and "slave" etc 
(Japanese, Thai, Burmese, Vietnamese, Turkish); a reflexive pronoun 
(Korean, Japanese, Burmese); demonstratives (Thai); plural (Turkish, 
Malay, and some Mayan languages) and dual pronouns (Kunimaipa); and 
borrowing of another language's polite pronoun(s) (Thai, Chomorro, 
Malay, Kalispel, Spokane). This is the way other known languages have 
grammaticalised the function and it is expected that BH should conform 
to this cross-linguistic patterning. Hebrew may divert, but it needs to 
be established why this is.

Hope this helps.

David Kummerow.

What we do have, though, is

> Dear David, Bryan, etc.
> At the risk of being too simple, could it be that some of the 
> phenomena that
> is being seen with "ani, anoki, etc." is due to the 430 years in Goshen,
> then 40 years in the desert? True, there are some Egyptian loan-words, 
> but
> the Egyptians, as indicated by Moses in Genesis that the Egyptians would
> have nothing to do with sheepherders; therefore, the descendants of
> Israel/Jacob were placed in Goshen.
> Again, 470 years, even with servitude, still is long time for some 
> facets of
> a language to remain static. I wonder if we are dismissing the period in
> Egypt too readily? What say ye, or should I say you?
> Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

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