[b-hebrew] We and us

Shoshanna Walker rosewalk at concentric.net
Tue Nov 14 19:48:44 EST 2006

When G-d talks first person, doesn't He usually say "Anochi"?  Does 
he ever say "Ani"?  Who else besides G-d says "Anochi"?  Asking 
seriously, I don't remember the entire Torah by heart.

Could that just be the distinction, that, if you don't want to accept 
that the Torah was written by G-d, you might miss?


Well, the fact remains that there is a distinction in the first person
pronouns. It is the explanation which is perhaps questionable. But are
there any other languages which make such a distinction for any purpose?
If not, then by your argument any explanation is a priori "extremely
questionable". Nevertheless, the fact remains, and there must be some
explanation of it.

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.

Peter Kirk
E-mail:  peter at qaya.org
Blog:    http://speakertruth.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.qaya.org/

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