[b-hebrew] We and us

David Kummerow farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Tue Nov 14 16:30:28 EST 2006

Dear Bryan,

See me earlier response to Peter. I take it that Peter's point does not 
invalidate my questioning of the supposed link between politeness and 
the two BH first-person independent pronouns. That English "your humble 
servant" HASN'T grammaticalised into a first-person pronoun could even 
be taken in support of my claims. Why hasn't it grammaticalised? The 
answer from typological research is that English would need polite 
second- and third-person pronouns before such a grammaticalisation could 
occur (again, see Helmbrecht's work).

This is the same with 'adoni hammelek substituting for 'attah. The 
phrase is hardly a polite pronoun. Sure, the phrase functions to express 
politeness, but I don't think it is a grammaticalised polite pronoun; it 
is still a noun phrase.

David Kummerow.

> B-Haverim,
> Peter makes a good point.  In addition, we may take note of third person 
> being substituted for second in BH (and English?), as in 'adoni hammelek 
> substituting for 'attah.
> Shalom,
> Bryan
> Peter Kirk wrote:
> >/ 
> />/ Later, David wrote:
> />>/ ... 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); ...
> />/ 
> />/ If the use of nouns denoting "servant" and "slave" for the first person 
> />/ counts here, then certain registers of English must be considered an 
> />/ exception to Helmbrecht's rule and so potentially similar to Hebrew. For 
> />/ in English there is no politeness distinction in second person pronouns, 
> />/ but in some registers "your humble servant" is used consistently as a 
> />/ politeness related substitute for "I". And in fact precisely the same 
> />/ happens in the Turkic language into which I am working on Bible 
> />/ translation; in the register the translators have chosen to use, second 
> />/ person polite forms are not used (as not appropriate in a historical 
> />/ context, for they are known to be a recent innovation), but a form "your 
> />/ slave" similar to the now obsolete Turkish usage is sometimes used in 
> />/ this translation, especially where the Hebrew offers some support. But 
> />/ then that implies that Hebrew is an exception to Helmbrecht's rule for 
> />/ sometimes using `ABDEKA as a first person form, quite apart from 'ANI 
> />/ and 'ANOKI.
> />/ 
> /
> -- 
> B. M. Rocine
> Living Word Church
> 6101 Court St. Rd.
> Syracuse, NY 13026
> (W): 315.437.6744

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