[b-hebrew] We and us

David Kummerow farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Wed Nov 15 18:32:55 EST 2006

Hi Bryan,

Yes, I just noticed that we must have been typing at the same time, even 
though on opposite sides of the world.

A few more comments below...

> 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?
No, I may have confused you I fear. What I was attempting to say was 
that their needs to be grammaticalised 2nd person polite pronoun in BH 
before one in the first person will grammaticalise. Well, that's the 
expectation raised from typology. The Hebrew data may say otherwise, but 
it needs to be demonstrated how this function process was able to occur 
while in other languages it has not. `abdo (and other forms) will remain 
analysable as noun + suffix until the language grammaticalises a polite 
second-person pronoun, whatever its source.

> 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.
Yes, and this is what is expected from the typological prediction. See, 
the theory is not entirely useless, but is able to guide somewhat how we 
are to think of the processes of development in a dead language.

> >/ 
> />/ 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.

Yes, I'm very much aware of such things---and it makes the language very 
> 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*.

Great, we've got somewhere! I agree. They remain phrases used for the 
expression of politeness, but they are not pronouns.
> 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.
> Shalom,
> Bryan

'anoki is the question. The typological prediction is that it is not a 
polite pronoun due to the lack of such a pronoun in the second-person. 
This is not to say it isn't, only that suspicion is cast upon it. For it 
to be demonstrated as such it needs to be shown: a) that there is a 
synchronic politeness contrast; b) its diachronic development into such 
a form; and c) how this process occurred in the first-person only when 
other languages only grammaticalised this form once the process is 
complete in the second-person.

David Kummerow.

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