[b-hebrew] Hebrew grammar books

David Kummerow farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 1 20:51:20 EDT 2008

Dear Isaac,

The discussion in Joüon-Muraoka which you refer to on the Piel is not so 
much a quest at definition per se so much as an attempt at description 
of the functions of the Piel. I fail to see how their work there is 
arbitrary; indeed, you simply state this criticism without evidence. 
Further, their statement on how the Piel relates to the other Binyanim 
is an accurate reflection of scholarship on the Binyanim system; again, 
you criticise without providing support for your position. I'm doubtful 
whether you've surveyed any native speakers of BH who were school boys 
to support your contention that the paradigmatic contrast between Qal 
and Piel was entirely clear!

David Kummerow.

> I have looked recently in the Hebrew grammar book of Jouon and Muraoka 
> and was pleasantly surprised by its occasional display of common sense 
> as well as their often manifest healthy scepticism of established 
> notions, traits often lacking in the all encompassing older book of 
> Gesenius.
> Here are two examples:
> 1. On the shwa they say, on page 50, "Whereas it is common practice to 
> speak of two kinds shewa, namely vocalic (mobile) shewa and silent 
> (quiescens) shewa, we believe that the shewa is essentially an 
> indication for zero vowel", which is the opinion of most Rabbinical 
> sources. See for instance the well researched Hebrew grammar book 
> Dikdukei Shai, דקדוקי שי by מנדלבאום, שמואל יונתן.
> 2. On the function of the piel form they say, on page 151, unfortunately 
> only hesitatingly, haltingly and of two minds, "Traditionally it has 
> been considered intensive in meaning. It is to be doubted whether there 
> is a direct link between this assumed function and the doubling of the 
> second radical". Then they go on to say, on page 154, " ... the question 
> how the function of Piel in relation to other conjugations, notably Qal 
> should be defined still remains one of the major challenges facing 
> Hebrew and Semitic linguistics." Here I am really baffled first by this 
> quest for DEFINITION, which is arbitrary, and then also by their awe for 
> something that should be very clear to any school boy.
> Isaac Fried, Boston University 

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