[b-hebrew] Interchange of L/lamed with R/resh in Biblical Hebrew

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Tue Jun 24 19:55:02 EDT 2008


It is your turn now to bring us some examples to what you call  
"phonemic analysis" in Hebrew. But please, please, please don't send  
us to some obscure paper in some forlorn festschrift of which there  
are only seven copies in the entire world.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Jun 24, 2008, at 6:12 PM, David Kummerow wrote:

> Dear Isaac,
> I'm afraid that your semantic analysis comes across to me as simply
> gibberish. The method is pure subjectivity. Like I said, we cannot
> discuss evidence such as Q$R and G$R before you accept the basics.
> However, you dismiss the basics of phonemic analysis. Phonemics is
> indeed a linguistic science despite your claim that it is not: it
> follows a clearly articulated methodology and produces results  
> which may
> be reproduced and/or falsified. A textbook on phonemics or an
> introductory course would answer your question: "How can the  
> elementary
> particle of language be defined in terms of this transcendental thing
> called 'meaning'?"
> Every language that I am aware of may be analysed phonemically. Your
> claim is that BH cannot be. That claim requires substantial
> justification in the face of the overwhelming crosslinguistic  
> evidence.
> In any case, BH has indeed been traditionally analysed following a
> method of normal phonemic analysis, the results of which produces a
> coherent linguistic system. I see no reason to abandon this in
> preference for a method which is entirely subjective, is relevant only
> for one language, and produces very questionable results.
> Regards,
> David Kummerow.
>> David,
>> I looked up 'phoneme' and this is what I find "In human language, a
>> phoneme is the smallest posited structural unit that distinguishes
>> meaning". Here lies the devil, in 'smallest', 'distinguishes', and
>> 'meaning', all barely definable or ascertainable. How can the  
>> elementary
>> particle of language be defined in terms of this transcendental thing
>> called 'meaning'? And, all in retrospect relative to its change? I am
>> really terribly sorry, but this can not pass for science. I know that
>> phoneme is a YSOD MUSAD in indo-European linguistics, but I truly
>> believe that we should abandon talk about it in Hebrew.
>> In the indo-European languages "distinguishing meaning" may be  
>> passable
>> but not in Hebrew. If the roots Q$R and G$R have the same meaning,  
>> then
>> Q and G are here equal phonemes [but different phones?], but if  
>> the two
>> roots differ only slightly in meaning, then Q and G are only barely
>> distinguishable phonemes [something between a phoneme and a  
>> phone?]. In
>> Hebrew it is not all-or-nothing. In any event, all this is too
>> bewildering to me and I am afraid that you get yourself entangled in
>> something not worth getting even close to.
>> This is why I prefer the use of 'equivalent'. The letters G, H, X,  
>> K, Q
>> are equivalent in the sense that if you substitute them in a Hebrew
>> root, the root retains its basic meaning. Thus, the Hebrew roots G$R,
>> [H$R], X$R, K$R, Q$R are equivalent, spawning words of only finely
>> differentiated meaning. The words QE$ER, 'knot, relationship' and  
>> GE$ER,
>> 'bridge', are different words, yet they are still the same. A GE 
>> $ER is
>> but something that M-QA$ER, 'connects', the two sides of a river. The
>> root H$R is not in use, but one can not understand what X$R [see XA 
>> $R-AT
>> MAYIM of 2 Samuel 22:12, and XI$UR of 1 Kings 7:33] means without
>> understanding that it is but a variant of Q$R. Thus, XA$R-AT  
>> (ABIM, is
>> but QA$R-AT (ABIM, clouds tying into each other to form an unbroken
>> canopy. The root K$R spawned the more abstract KA$ER and KA$IR,  
>> 'fit',
>> being but QA$IR, 'connectable'.
>> Isaac Fried, Boston University
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