[b-hebrew] Genesis 31: 47: What Foreign Language Is That?

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Mon Nov 26 17:18:12 EST 2007


I have horror of abstract arguments and vague courses of reasoning.  
If you are interested in keeping this discussion going, then we must  
keep it concrete and focused.
I asked you if you [not some doctoral candidate at MIT] agree that
where AT, ATAH, ANU and ATEM are the stand-alone Hebrew personal  
pronouns, but did not receive a clear answer.
These equalities are so obvious, or apparently obvious, that they  
have surly been observed over time by many a discerning Hebraist. As  
I said before, even the usually reticent Gesenius remarks on it  
somewhere in his grammar book. Also on the similar composite  
structure of the prefixed forms.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Nov 26, 2007, at 2:49 PM, David Kummerow wrote:

> Hi Isaac,
> I agree that the BH prefix verb inflections may be diachronically  
> related to independent personal pronouns. Actually, this is more  
> easily demonstrated with the suffix verb, which some do relate  
> (see, eg, Prince 1975). I have seen one attempt to unite the prefix  
> verb inflections and independent personal pronouns in Arabic  
> (Lumsden and Halefon 2003), but none as yet for BH.
> I said "impossible" in my previous post as the semantics of the -ut  
> suffix seems to be incompatible with the semantics of personal  
> pronouns: the one an abstraction, the other definite and specific.  
> Further, the combining of 3p with 2p is semantically incompatible  
> when these are separate forms. I realise that there are languages  
> where the one form is used to express these two meanings, but that  
> is a different issue. We are talking here of two forms combining.  
> There needs to be some functional motivation for such combining:  
> how is it possible for a speaker to combing a 3p pronoun with a 2p  
> pronoun to produce a marker of abstaction? What is the reason(s)  
> for this? How can the combining of separate marked speech  
> participants be accomplished and their semantics entirely bleached  
> to allow this?
> Lumsden, John S. and Girma Halefom. 2003. “Verb Conjugations and  
> the Strong Pronoun Declension in Standard Arabic.” Pages 305-337 in  
> Research in Afroasiatic Grammar II: Selected Papers from the Fifth  
> Conference on Afroasiatic Languages, Paris, 2000. Edited by  
> Jacqueline Lecarme. Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of  
> Linguistic Science 241. Amsterdam/Philedelphia: John Benjamins.
> Prince, Alan S. 1975. “The Phonology and Morphology of Tiberian  
> Hebrew.” PhD diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
> Regards,
> David Kummerow.
>> David,
>> It appears to me that you got what I am saying, to wit your  
>> judgement that "this proposal is most unlikely (actually, I would  
>> go as far as to say impossible)." I wish you would have given us a  
>> reasoned explanation why this is impossible. Hebrew may easily  
>> pack six personal pronouns in one word. This is how spoken Hebrew  
>> keeps producing more and more words out of the same root.  
>> Superficiality, in my opinion, is a tremendous virtue in  
>> linguistics. Being overly sophisticated may readily lead one to  
>> overshoot the target. Language is a very very simple device.   
>> Let's be concrete and see if we can find some common ground. Do  
>> you agree that the inflected verb $AMART, 'you [female singular]  
>> guarded' is the coming together of the act $AMAR and the following  
>> personal pronoun AT for the actor, or is this last T just an  
>> abstract morpheme, a mere adjunct grammatical marker?
>> Isaac Fried, Boston University

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