[b-hebrew] We and us

B. M. Rocine brocine at twcny.rr.com
Tue Nov 14 22:57:54 EST 2006

Hi David,

Begging your patience.

Take 1 Sam 26:19 for an example:

yishma` na' 'adoni hammelek 'et dibrey `abdo

We have a 3rd person subject prefix on the verb.  Surely this is a 
transformation from the second person notion "you" (2nd person) as in 
"you listen."

We have a third person pronominal suffix on `abdo.  Surely this is a 
transformation from the first person possessive notion, "The words are 

The question is not whether the notions surface as noun clauses or 
independent pronouns.  The question is whether the transformation from a 
notion in one person to a surface structure in another person is driven 
by politeness.

Am I thinking correctly?

If yes, why wouldn't the surface structure qualify as grammaticalization 
since it requires third person reference?


David Kummerow wrote:
> 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.
> Regards,
> 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
> _______________________________________________
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew

B. M. Rocine
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13026
(W): 315.437.6744

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list