[b-hebrew] We and us

David Kummerow farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 20 23:56:45 EST 2006

Dear Karl (and others reading this post),

In my post below, which I just thankfully reread, I have a rather bad 
typo: "predication" should actually be "prediction".

Hope that makes for easier reading!

David Kummerow.

> Hi Karl,
> So you spoke prematurely when you said that the "literature displays a 
> Eurocentric view" since you haven't necessarily read the literature 
> yourself? The typological literature most definitely does not display 
> such bias. In part, that is what is helpful with it. Concerning the 
> books I reference, yes, I didn't really have access to them 
> either---which is why I purchased them! This way, one can be outside the 
> academic world but still have the resources. Or, in my case, if I desire 
> access to them more than what is allowed on my borrowing rights.
> Concerning ??? vs. ????, Revell's earlier study concluded that the 
> distinction was one of politeness. I forget the data sample, but it was 
> a few books, maybe Judges and Samuel (I can look it up when I get a 
> chance if you want, I'm just a bit busy at the moment marking exams to 
> do it right at this moment; perhaps I could scan it for you if you 
> wanted?). His later study moved on from this, concluding that the 
> distinction was one of immediacy vs non-immediacy (see my earlier posts 
> on this). His data sample here was a few books also.
> Now to you contention that "[l]ooking at other languages will only 
> result in a lot of hot air". This is your view, and you are entitled to 
> it. It is certainly not mine, and I would need convincing to move to 
> such a position. Typology has demonstrated again and again that 
> cross-linguistic variation in languages reveal systematic patterns (see, 
> eg, Croft's _Typology and Universals_). Regarding personal pronouns, 
> this is demonstrated in the works of Helmbrecht, Bhat, Cysouw, 
> Siewierska, etc etc: cross-linguistically, pronominal systems are not 
> random, but can be somewhat predicated based on features of language. A 
> significant typological finding is that for a language to grammaticalise 
> a politeness distinction in the first person pronouns, it firstly 
> grammaticalises such a distinction in the second person on its way to 
> the first: politeness may be extended to the first person, but does not 
> begin there. I fail to see that this is "hot air"; rather, it is a 
> concrete language predication. Further, it raises a helpful question 
> concerning Revell's proposal and helps to raise the issues of 
> evaluation: a) what is the nature of the synchronic politeness 
> contrast(s); b) what is the diachronic development of the contrast(s), 
> that is, can the development be traced to known politeness sources; and 
> c) how has such a process occurred in BH when in other languages the 
> process only happens after a distinction is made in the second person. 
> Now, Revell's study has only touched in part on a). b) and c) are not 
> discussed at all. But it is c) that is where it would get really 
> interesting, for this would be getting at the heart of the function. But 
> a study might flounder on completing a) such that a complete synchronic 
> demonstration of a politeness distinction from the data might not be 
> justifiable and hence b) and c) would be unnecessary.
> Regards,
> David Kummerow,
> >/ David:
> />/
> />/ As a person outside the academic world, I don't have access to the
> />/ books that you reference. I am only able to respond to what I observed
> />/ in this discussion.
> />/
> />/ Now concerning ??? vs. ????, is there a usage variance that is
> />/ observable? For example, do speakers use ???? usually when they speak
> />/ as a subordinate to a superior, whereas ??? as a superior to an
> />/ inferior? If so, then we have an example of politeness. If not, then
> />/ look for other patterns. Whoever does the study will have to do a
> />/ careful analysis of the contexts of hundreds of occurrences of both
> />/ ??? and ???? to come to an answer. Looking at other languages will
> />/ only result in a lot of hot air. Such a study would make a good
> />/ research topic for a master's degree.
> />/
> />/ I think such a study should be done before comparisons with other
> />/ languages, not after as it appears from the discussion.
> />/
> />/ Has such a study been done? What were its results? Is it available to
> />/ the general public?
> />/
> />/ Yours, Karl W. Randolph.
> />/
> />

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