[b-hebrew] We and us

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Wed Nov 15 19:26:38 EST 2006

Dear David,

Please send me those articles.

Thank You,

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Kummerow" <farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 2:53 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] We and us

> > On 15/11/2006 00:09, David Kummerow wrote:
> > >/ Hi Peter,
> > />/
> > />/ What about "siz"? Isn't this a second-person plural pronoun which is
> > />/ used for polite second-person singular address? If so, Turkish has a
> > />/ politeness distinction in the second person while also using
> > />/ "bendeniz" as a polite first-person pronoun (bendeniz is
> > />/ etymologically related to Persian "banda" (slave) + -niz (2pl
> > />/ possessive)). ...
> > /
> > Indeed. I don't deny that Turkish has a second person singular
> > politeness distinction using "siz" (otherwise the plural) as the polite
> > alternative to "sen". Indeed "bendeniz" is derived from Persian "banda"
> > and so etymologically related to English "bind". (But I am sure that
> > most Turks think that "bendeniz" is a suffixed form of "ben", "I", and
> > this may well have contributed to its popularity.) My point was that in
> > Azerbaijani, the other language I mentioned, although this same 2nd
> > person politeness distinction is marginally present, it is actually a
> > rather recent phenomenon, whereas if I am not mistaken the use of
> > "banda" as a polite form of "I" is a part of the classical language. But
> > I would need to check my facts here.
> >
> OK, sure. Perhaps, then, "bendeniz" may still be on the way of
> grammaticalising. If so, it proves nothing for us to persist in
> discussing it as it neither proves nor disproves Helmbrecht's hierarchy.
> > >/ ... But is `abdeka in Hebrew as grammaticalised as "bendeniz" in
> > />/ Turkish? Is "your servant" in Hebrew as grammaticalised as "siz" in
> > />/ Turkish? Answers to these questions will help to decide how Hebrew
> > />/ speaks to the posited politeness hierarchy. ...
> > /
> > But I have no way of answering this question because I have no idea what
> > criteria Helmbrecht has for deciding whether a form is grammaticalised.
> > This seems to be an undefined term in this whole discussion, and as such
> > is to me a more or less meaningless word, unless it simply means "this
> > form agrees with my hypothesis".
> >
> >
> I supplied you with the references for Helmbrecht so you can go and read
> things for yourself. If you don't know what a GRAMMATICALISED polite
> pronoun is, then why suggest that Hebrew `abdeka is one when you're not
> sure of what you are suggesting? If you don't have access to
> Helmbreacht's works, they are easy for me to email them to you.
> > >/ ... Further, I have yet to see anyone try to derive 'anoki from a
> > />/ lexical word denoting "slave" or something similar (or any other
> > />/ source of polite pronouns for that matter), which is needed for the
> > />/ form to grammaticalise into a polite pronoun. (Blake I think was had
> > />/ stab at relating 'anoki from a demonstative, but he did the same for
> > />/ 'ani.)
> > />/
> > /I did not suggest this for 'anoki, only for `abdeka. Remember that
> > derivation from a word for "slave" is only one of a number of possible
> > derivations of polite first person plural forms mentioned by Helmbrecht.
> >
> No, I know that you did not suggest this. But the whole discussion
> started by way of the possibility of the grammaticalisation of a
> politeness distinction between 'ani and 'anoki. I was trying to tie our
> discussion back to this issue is all. I realise that nouns are only one
> of a number of possibility for the source of polite pronouns (as I
> actually mention in my post!), but what I have yet to see is someone's
> attempt to trace the grammaticalisation of 'anoki to one of these
> souces. Blake 1934 was an attempt to trace both 'ani and 'anoki back to
> a demonstrative base, one particular source for polite pronouns.
> However, BOTH forms are traced to a demonstrative, and there is no
> mention of politeness.
> > >/ I take it that Helmbrecht judges "bendeniz" to be a polite
> > />/ first-person pronoun because his grammatical sources judge it to be
> > />/ such. Further confirmation for him would be from the fact that
> > />/ also has a polite second-person pronoun, so conforming to the
> > />/ of other known languages. "Bendeniz" may still be judged by some
> > />/ speakers to be a noun phrase, so its status as a polite first-person
> > />/ pronoun may be considered marginal and not be wholly grammaticalised
> > />/ (as with Hebrew, perhaps).
> > />/
> > /Turkish "bendeniz" is listed in my dictionary as a polite form of "I",
> > and so is Azerbaijani "banda". "Your humble servant" is probably not so
> > listed in English dictionaries. Is this the kind of criterion you are
> > looking for? It seems a rather arbitrary one as it depends on the
> > differing policies of different lexicographers and grammarians of
> > different language. But on this criterion, what of Hebrew `abdeka? BDB
> > actually lists it (sense 6 of `ebed) as "In polite address of equals or
> > superiors the Hebrews used ????????? /thy servant/ = 1 pers. sing.,
/I/". So
> > is this evidence that this form is grammaticalised?
> >
> As I said before, it depends on how entrenched the form is in the minds
> of speakers as a polite form in and of itself. If the forms are still
> synchronically thought of in their constituent parts, then they are not
> polite pronouns. "Your humble servant" hardly seems to have been
> entrenched as it has not persisted. "You", on the other hand, has
> persisted because the form grammaticalised as a polite pronoun, then
> even grammaticalising further into the form we have today. There's a big
> difference here.
> > >/ Regarding the status of English "your humble servant", I think the
> > />/ burden is on you to prove that it is a pronoun as you are raising it
> > />/ as proof that it is and so challenges Helmbrecht's politeness
> > />/ hierarchy. ...
> > /
> > I am not claiming it is a pronoun. I am more using it as an example of
> > what is not a pronoun. But if Turkish "bendeniz" is a pronoun and
> > English "your humble servant" is not, what are the criteria on which we
> > can decide whether Hebrew `abdeka is a pronoun or not? And don't say
> > conformity to Helmbrecht's hypothesised hierarchy, because that is
> > circular reasoning.
> >
> >
> I'm sorry, but you seemed to be raising English "your humble servant" as
> further evidence disproving Helmbrecht's hierarchy. If not, then it is
> useless discussing it. Possibly Turkish "bendeniz" may only have
> marginal status as a polite pronoun, but it depends. If so, then it may
> have been used by Helmbrecht imprecisely, ie it is a form on the way of
> grammaticalision rather than a complete grammaticalised pronoun. I do
> think that Hebrew `abdeka does not have the status of a pronoun. I
> continue to suggest that it will not completely grammaticalise to the
> status of a polite pronoun until this process is at least complete in
> the second person, conforming to the development and process of
> grammaticalision of politeness in other known languages.
> > >/ ... You only say that it is used in "some registers of English".
> > />/ ones? Are these speakers native to English? Are any not, and if so,
> > />/ does their native language encode politeness distinctions in
> > />/ Personally, I am unable to recall hearing anyone use the phrase
> > />/ humble servant" as a noun phrase even, let alone hearing speakers
> > />/ using this as a grammaticalised polite pronoun. ...
> > /
> > You would be unlikely to hear it because it was used mostly in writing,
> > and especially I think in the 19th century. It is obviously not part of
> > the form of English which you know, which means that you are not in a
> > position to determine its grammatical status.
> >
> Sure, but like I said, I am able to judge that it must not have been as
> an entrenched usage as "you" was, the evidence being that the phrase did
> not persist (see what I said above). This strongly points towards the
> non-grammaticalised nature of the phrase, and, consequently, the
> non-pronoun-status of the phrase.
> > >/ ...The burden rests with you, I think. In answer to your question,
> > />/ though, I take it that the reason why we know that "your humble
> > />/ servant" isn't a grammaticalised polite pronoun is simply that it
> > />/ not have this grammaticalised function. ...
> > /
> > This is a perfectly circular argument! We know that it is not
> > grammaticalised because it is not grammaticalised! Really, surely you
> > can do better than this!
> >
> Personally, I'm not one to entirely go for the rejection of an argument
> that has an element of circularity. How do I know my eyes are green? I
> know because I look in the mirror and see that they're green. Sure, it's
> circular; but it doesn't detract from the fact that they remain green
> even if my arrival at this conclusion was somewhat circular.
> So, too, with the grammaticalisation of polite pronouns. For pronouns to
> be considered grammaticalised polite pronouns, they need to have
> undergone a process of grammaticalisation. In the absence of this, the
> phrase is not grammaticalised. "Your humble servant" is not a
> grammaticalised polite pronoun because it appears not to have undergone
> the process. Sure, it fits the context where such forms may arise, but
> the fact that it is non-entrenched and rarely spoken means that the
> process whereby grammaticalisation occurs, namely the repetition and
> entrenchment of a phrase etc., is not met. With "you", for example, it
> is with speaker after speaker choosing to use the word time and again
> that it grammaticalised into a polite pronoun. In time, due to
> overusage, it came to displace "thou", thus grammaticalising futher.
> "You" is a grammaticalised pronoun because it has undergone the process
> of grammaticalisation. A circular statement, but nevertheless true.
> > >/ ... It is a noun phrase that is can be used to denote politeness, but
> > />/ personally I have never heard it even uttered. As such, it can
> > />/ be taken to be a grammaticalised first-person polite pronoun---or
> > />/ one on the way of grammaticalisation. The typological evidence does
> > />/ not in itself decide the matter (English itself must do so on its
> > />/ terms), but it does provide a possible reason why the phrase isn't
> > />/ grammaticalising. English has lost its politeness distinction in the
> > />/ second-person. This is the region of language where politeness
> > />/ distinctions is most prominent, but this has been lost in English.
> > />/ Because this has been lost, much of the motivation lying behind the
> > />/ grammaticalisation of a polite first-person pronoun is lost, such
> > />/ noun phrases like "your humble servant" are rarely even used let
> > />/ grammaticalising.
> > />/
> > /This last sentence is to me perfectly meaningless, except for "noun
> > phrases like "your humble servant" are rarely even used" with which I
> > agree. But if a phrase being rare in the modern form of a language is
> > evidence that it is not grammaticalised, Turkish "bendeniz" must be
> > rejected as an example, for it is almost obsolete: from my dictionary:
> > "formerly used in polite speech when referring to o.s.; today used
> > either jocularly or sarcastically", in other words just like English
> > "your humble servant" is occasionally used today.
> >
> > Peter Kirk
> > E-mail:  peter at qaya.org
> > Blog:    http://speakertruth.blogspot.com/
> > Website: http://www.qaya.org/
> The last sentence is crucially important and tells me that you have not
> fully appreciated the findings of Helmbrecht. The region of the
> second-person is where politeness is most needed to be expressed and
> functionally useful. This is the region of commands, etc. It is a touchy
> area of language (see my post to Bryan). This is why it is here that
> "please" makes an appearance etc. So too with polite pronouns. This is
> the area they appear most often; indeed, as Helmbrecht has determined,
> this is where they are expressed before any other person. The lack of
> this functional expression in English means that 1st person phrases like
> "your humble servant" will not grammaticalise. Indeed, they are rarely
> uttered (like I said, I haven't even heard it before), pointing to the
> non-entrenched---and thus non-grammaticalised---nature of the phrase.
> Regards,
> David Kummerow.
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