[b-hebrew] Gesenius on Femininity, response to Peter and Karl

Chris and Nel wattswestmaas at eircom.net
Wed Sep 27 12:42:31 EDT 2006


Peter and Karl

That is my point: "Arbitrary" - I don't really like that.  Arbitrary in this 
instance can also be a replacement for "we have not found the reason"?  For 
example, when the numbers 3 t/m 10 take the masc and fem endings back to 
front when modifying their counterparts?  Is this arbitrary? Or do we assume 
that there is a jolly good reason lost to us for the present?

Secondly there are patterns for nouns apparently without "natural
gender", such as: Earth and nations, parts of the body, a lot of abstracts; 
I could go on with examples but I am sure that you know them.

Best regards to you both
Chris
Ireland.


> Peter, surely you can not be serious? ...

I am absolutely serious. 19th century scholars like Gesenius speculated
about reasons for grammatical gender, but 20th century linguists
realised that, although there may be some explanation lost in the depths
of time, the grammatical gender assignments of words without "natural
gender" can only be treated as arbitrary.

> ... It SEEMS arbitrary and that is why I
> asked.  I had always thought that apart from the obvious male/female
> associations the rest is just accident, but it seems quite clear that
> accident has nothing to do with it, it may appear accident, but I think 
> that
> Gesenius has a point, you don't think so?
>
>
No. Your intuitions on this are better than the outmoded ones of Gesenius.

-- 
Peter Kirk
E-mail:  peter at qaya.org
Blog:    http://speakertruth.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.qaya.org/



------------------------------

Message: 6
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2006 14:04:41 -0700
From: "K Randolph" <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Gesenius on Femininity
To: B-Hebrew <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Message-ID:
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Chris:

I will back up Peter.

I have uncovered patterns explaining why some nouns are feminine, but
in many cases the gender of a noun is just arbitrary, often just
because a noun has a certain form will determine its gender
irrespective of its meaning.

In the case of TWRH, it is from the same root as the verb YRH which
means to shoot out teachings, ideas, rain, projectiles, and anything
that can be shot out. TWRH is a regular development of a peh-yod root,
but with a heh as a final, which usually denotes a feminine gender.
Thus the fact that TWRH is feminine can be explained as a grammatical
structure, nothing more.

Karl W. Randolph.

On 9/25/06, Chris and Nel <wattswestmaas at eircom.net> wrote:
> Peter, surely you can not be serious?  It SEEMS arbitrary and that is why 
> I
> asked.  I had always thought that apart from the obvious male/female
> associations the rest is just accident, but it seems quite clear that
> accident has nothing to do with it, it may appear accident, but I think 
> that
> Gesenius has a point, you don't think so?
>
> Regards Chris
>
> 25 sept Peter Kirk replied:
>
> > This is not how language works. In any language with grammatical gender,
> > the gender of many nouns is entirely arbitrary and no significance can
> > be derived from it at all.
> >
> > --
> > Peter Kirk
> > E-mail:  peter at qaya.org
> > Blog:    http://speakertruth.blogspot.com/
> > Website: http://www.qaya.org/
>
>
> On 23/09/2006 19:39, Chris and Nel wrote:
>
> > Gesenius makes some interesting observations about the purpose of a noun
> > being in the feminine:  "Indication of the gender of the noun" page 411
> > (1898 edition).
> > This got me thinking about a few words that had no apparent reason for
> > being
> > in the feminine.  One such word was the obvious -- Torah.  And so I 
> > wonder
> > whether there would be agreement to the following 'idea' (based on
> > Gesenius's reasoning) that while this concept was masterful, strong,
> > dominant and hence a masculine ideal; it is rather by absolute contrast 
> > a
> > productive, sustaining, nourishing concept! and hence feminine.  (All 
> > this
> > assuming that Torah is understood along the lines that it means nore
> > teaching and guiding and instruction rather than the negative concept of
> > 'Law' as assumed in some circles)
> >
> > What are your thoughts on this?




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