[b-hebrew] Isaac Fried's Theory (was Karl's lexicon)
if at math.bu.edu
Fri Aug 31 00:03:39 EDT 2007
You say "Grammar is induced by [a?] process of generalisation". OK.
But what is being generalized? There is obviously a transmitted
grammatical system [we need define grammar, but this is not for now]
with some irregularities that are being instinctively, yet
"erroneously", rectified by the young or the naive [or the well
intentioned]. There is a darn annoying extra s in 'he stands'. Does
this 's' mean anything, or is it just a dead appendix? If so why is
it not removed by the wise men of England? I used to remove it in
English class in school but the teacher became annoyed with me.
What is the point you are trying to make here? English is not Hebrew.
English does not have a root system anymore, and its vowels are just
empty sounds. Could you explain to me, by the way, what is the
independent meaning of -ed in goed? Is this just a random syllable
formed out of thin air and stuck there to indicate past action? I
have said it earlier, I will say it again, I am not interested in
English nor in Eskimo, only in Hebrew.
I am really put off by this techno-talk of hardweired brains. The
human mind is not the motherboard of a digital computer. We have
feelings and are inventive. What is, pray, "the mechanisms of our
cognitive system"? is this just common linguistic bombast for
'intelligence'? You say further "Shamarnu has very little meaning on
its own but in a real phonetic string becomes far more meaningful".
Sorry, but I do not understand this. Is "phonetic string" the same
bombast for 'sentence'?
You go on to say "Any one hearing such a statement [namely SHAMARNU]
would immediately wonder 'Who is the we?' and 'What did they guard?'
Right! This proves that SHAMARNU is meaningful since it engenders
meaningful questions. SHAMARNU consists of two words that came
together SHAMAR and NU. Moreover, I see NU itself as consisting of
the two words N-U, with N indication existence, and U something that
is noisy, like me.
You end by saying "Such is, after all, merely convention". True. But
convention is set by people.
The issues before us are very simple and very well defined, and
unique to Hebrew [or her Semitic sisters]. Hebrew is built up of
roots---some 3500 of them. Each root consists [normally] of a cluster
of three consonants, and is endowed with a meaning. Say the root GDL,
which means 'large'. I know that meaning is vague and controversial.
There are some 22 marked consonants in Hebrew, which can be arranged
into seven groups. One group, for example, being B, V, W, P, F. The
question now is this Is the root random or systematic? I hold to the
opinion that the root is systematic with each contributing consonant
being by itself a meaningful single-consonant root. Next, to the
skeletal root Hebrew adds vowels to create pronounceable [pronounce-
able] words. The question now is this Are the vowels empty sounds or
are they semantically meaningful? I hold to the opinion that the A
sound is just a phonetic ligature, but that the sounds U-O and I-E
are identity markers. For instance, $AMUR, 'guarded', from the root
$MR, is $AM-U-R with U referring to the thing, HU, being guarded.
Luckily our root system is transmitted to us from biblical times
nearly intact, otherwise the linguistic barbarians would have ruined it.
Isaac Fried, Boston University
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