[b-hebrew] We and us

David Kummerow farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Wed Nov 15 00:46:32 EST 2006

I should also mention that on matters of grammaticalisation in BH, the 
following is useful reading:

Andersen, T. David. 2000. “The Evolution of the Hebrew Verbal System.” 
Zeitschrift für Althebraistik 13: 1-66.

Anstey, Matthew. 2006. “The Grammatical–Lexical Cline in Tiberian 
Hebrew.” Journal of Semitic Studies 51: 59-84.

Anstey, Matthew P. 2006. “Towards a Functional Discourse Grammar 
Analysis of Tiberian Hebrew.” Published PhD diss., Vrije Universiteit.

Cook, John A. 2001. “The Hebrew Verb: A Grammaticalization Approach.” 
Zeitschrift für Althebraistik 14: 117-143.

Cook, John A. 2002. “The Biblical Hebrew Verbal System: A 
Grammaticalization Approach.” PhD diss., University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Miller, Cynthia L. 2003 [1996]. The Representation of Speech in Biblical 
Hebrew Narrative: A Linguistic Analysis. Harvard Semitic Monographs 55. 
Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns.

Tropper, Josef. 2001. “Die Herausbildung des bestimmten Artikels im 
Semitischen.” Journal of Semitic Studies 46: 1-31.

David Kummerow.

> Hi Bryan,
> I'm not sure if either of the two "questions" you suggest get at the 
> matter fully: "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."
> That is, I take it that there is a further "question", that being: how 
> is politeness being expressed in the example raised---pronoun avoidance, 
> third-person address (with lexical items) or via polite pronouns? Put 
> this way, I think it is hard to conclude that 'adoni hammelek and `abdo 
> are polite pronouns; rather, they are the linguistic strategy in BH 
> whereby politeness can be expressed by lexical noun phrases in the 
> ABSENCE of grammaticalised polite pronouns.
> Perhaps a definition of "grammaticalisation" (American 
> "grammaticalization") may help to clarify matters: "Grammaticalization 
> is a process leading from lexemes to grammatical formatives. ... A sign 
> is grammaticalized to the extent that it is devoid of concrete lexical 
> meaning and takes part in obligatory rules" (Lehmann 1995: viii), the 
> change being irreversible (Haspelmath 1999).
> Looking again at the example: to what extent are the phrases 'adoni 
> hammelek and `abdo grammaticalised? 'adoni hammelek will only be used in 
> reference to a king, that is, the politeness expressed by the phrase has 
> not extended past such a context. For it to be a polite pronoun, it 
> would need to have lost much of the reference to "king" such that the 
> phrase could be used more widely of any addressee when the expression of 
> politeness is desired. Sure the phrases expresses politeness in the 
> example; but the phrase isn't grammaticalised. Is this the situation too 
> with `abdo? I'm not sure that the word has lost its lexical meaning of 
> "servant" and instead is a polite pronoun. Note that the suffix is not 
> obligatorily 3ms, but will change depending of the context (3mp, 2ms, 
> 2pl, etc). This points to the non-grammaticalised nature of the 
> expression, with `ebed still being a lexical word denoting 
> "servant/slave". It is via the use of this lexical word denoting 
> "servant/slave" that politeness is being expressed, not by the use of a 
> grammaticalised polite pronoun. The issue is where `abdo is situated on 
> the lexical-grammatical cline, with lexical words being used for the 
> expression of politeness on one end of the spectrum, and grammatical 
> items reserved solely for this purpose on the other.
> Here's the references I mentioned above as well as one relevant to the 
> issue of the expression of politeness in BH:
> Estelle, Bryan D. 2001. “Know Before Whom You Stand: The Language of 
> Deference in Some Ancient Aramaic and Hebrew Documents.” PhD diss., 
> Catholic University of America.
> Haspelmath, Martin. 1999. “Why is Grammaticalization Irreversible?” 
> Linguistics 37: 1043-1068.
> Lehmann, Christian. 1995. Thoughts on Grammaticalization. Lincom Studies 
> in Theoretical Linguistics 1. München: Lincom.
> Hope this helps to clarify things.
> Regards,
> David Kummerow.
>> 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 
>> mine."
>> 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?
>> Shalom,
>> Bryan

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