[b-hebrew] We and us

B. M. Rocine brocine at twcny.rr.com
Wed Nov 15 17:54:01 EST 2006

Hi David,

I really appreciate all the work you are putting into this thread!
You have put forward a lot of good reading that I need to catch up on.

You will see that one of my posts was heading to you while one of yours
was headed my way.  I don't know if you will want to add anything that
you have not said below.

See my comments below:

David Kummerow wrote:
> Gday Bryan,
> OK, to deal with more of the points raised in your earlier post and this 
> one.
> See my post to Peter's post replying this one of yours. There, I said:
> "If `abdeka were a grammaticalised polite
> pronoun, it should be analysable pretty much solely as a polite pronoun,
> i.e. [`abdeka] = polite 1st person polite pronoun, rather than [[`ebed]
> = "servant" + [ka] = 2ms] = polite 1st person noun phrase reference. Do
> you see the difference? The question is: to what extent is `abdeka
> grammaticalised, or, put another way, synchronically analysable? I think
> in the minds of speakers it was still thought of in its constituent parts."
> What do you think of this? Perhaps, though, `abdo may be on the way of 
> grammaticalisation (it fits the needed contextual configuration etc), 
> but I suggest that it will not be a completed process until such a 
> process is completed at least in the second person. I just checked Rubin 
> (2005) and I find it interesting that the grammaticalisation of 
> politeness in Semitic is not discussed.

So you are saying that `ebed + pronominal suffix, to be considered a 
polite pronoun, needs to be a choice also for referring to a 2nd person?

Interesting.  We have plenty of 'adoni's, 'abi's, and beni's but really 
no `abdi's standing in for 'attah.  The nearest I can find is something 
like Isa 44:1 shma` ya`aqob `abdi, but I don't think it qualifies 
because the notion is "you will listen. you are Yaaqob.  you are my 
servant," not just "you will listen."  So I should concede a point to 
you, that `ebed + pronominal suffix is always still two morphemes, even 
in a "polite" situation.

> Now to yishma`. I take it here that it is not the pronoun per se which 
> expresses politeness, but the avoidance of a direct unmitigated command, 
> ie an imperative. Commanding people to do things is a touchy issue, and 
> this is often expressed in the grammars of languages (see esp. Heath 
> 1991, 1998, 2004). David mitigates his command to the king by lessening 
> the imperative force of the utterance. This is achieved in a few ways. 
> First, he uses the politeness/formal marker na' (on na', see Dallaire 
> 2002; Shulman 1996, 1999). Secondly, an imperative is avoided 
> altogether, with a jussive used instead. The entire jussive form itself, 
> rather than simply the pronoun, is probably more polite than using an 
> imperative (see Kaufman 1991 for some discussion).

It seems to me that the BH lexicon is meager.  For instance, there is
the lack of modal words.  This does not mean that BH cannot express
modal concepts.  It does so by marshaling its extant forms and lexicon
and applying construction rules, like word order conventions, context,
and clause-strings.

It would not surprise me to find that an extant
lexical item (e.g. `ebed) or a context (e.g. a soldier is talking to his
king) can work together with extant forms (e.g. clitic and stand-alone
pronouns) to create a class of slot-fillers called "polite forms."  Not 
polite pronouns, but polite *forms*.

I can see that, even if we accept this description of a way to generate
polite slot-fillers, 'anoki (as a proposed polite slot-filler) still 
stands as a sort of odd man out.  It may not be enough like the other 
slot-fillers for comfort' sake.


> Do you see what I'm trying to get at? There's politeness processes at 
> working in the language, but the grammaticalisation of social politeness 
> in BH is not tied to pronouns reserved for this function.
> As an aside, I just checked Rubin (2005) and I find it interesting that 
> the grammaticalisation of politeness in Semitic is not discussed at all. 
> Sure it might be an oversight, but it may point to there not being 
> grammaticalised politeness in BH.
> Hope this continues to help clarify matters. I'm finding the discussion 
> very helpful.
> Here's the references mentioned:
> Dallaire, Hélène. 2002. “The Syntax of Volitives in Northwest Semitic 
> Prose.” PhD diss., Hebrew Union College.
> Heath, Jeffrey. 1991. “Pragmatic Disguise in Pronominal-Affix 
> Paradigms.” Pages 75-89 in Paradigms: The Economy of Inflection. Edited 
> by Georg Bossong and Bernard Comrie. Empirical Approaches to Language 
> Typology 9. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
> Heath, Jeffrey. 1998. “Pragmatic Skewing in 1 <-> 2 Pronominal 
> Combinations in Native American Languages.” International Journal of 
> American Linguistics 64: 83-104.
> Heath, Jeffrey. 2004. “Person.” Pages 998-1015 in Morphologie: Ein 
> internationales Handbuch zur Flexion und Wortbildung. Edited by Geert 
> Booij, Christian Lehmann, Joachim Mugdan, and Stavros Skopeteas. 
> Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft 17/2. Berlin/New 
> York: Walter de Gruyter.
> Kaufman, Stephen A. 1991. “An Emphatic Plea for Please.” Maarav 7: 195-198.
> Rubin, Aaron D. 2005. Studies in Semitic Grammaticalization. Harvard 
> Semitic Studies 57. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns.
> Shulman, Ahouva. 1996. “The Use of Modal Verb Forms in Biblical Hebrew 
> Prose.” PhD diss., University of Toronto.
> Shulman, Ahouva. 1999. “The Particle נָא in Biblical Hebrew Prose.” 
> Hebrew Studies 40: 57-82.
> Regards,
> David Kummerow.
>> Hi David,
>> Thank you for your helpful clarifications.
>> One minor clarification on my side: in my post (quoted below) I 
>> purposely avoided discussing 'adoni hammelek for the very reasons you 
>> mention. I focused on only the transformation from 2nd person notion 
>> (e.g. tishma') to 3rd person surface (yishma`) and `ebed + pronominal 
>> suffix, which has wide application.
>> I do accept that grammaticalization may be more rigorous than I had 
>> realized. I am still not sure why tishma` -> yishma` would not qualify.
>> Thanks also for the bibliographic references!
>> Shalom,
>> Bryan
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B. M. Rocine
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13026
(W): 315.437.6744

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