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

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Tue Jun 24 23:43:48 EDT 2008


I see that "morphemes are composed of phonemes" so that if a phoneme  
is ill defined, then a morpheme is also ill defined, and then it  
results that there is no such thing as "phonemic analysis". I think  
that 'morpheme' is just a high sounding coverup for 'I don't know  
what this thing is'. Everything that has form is a morpheme.
The thing is that all this high sounding, ill defined terminology is  
counterproductive. The structure and composition of the Hebrew word  
can be fully and successfully discussed in plain English.
I looked up Joüon-Muraoka but saw there nothing to enlighten me.
I still think you should give us some examples as to how to perform a  
phonemic analysis in Hebrew and point out to us the benefits of such  
an analysis.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Jun 24, 2008, at 9:21 PM, David Kummerow wrote:

> EDIT: Sorry, I got interrupted and didn't finish a correction to a
> sentence before I inadvertently sent the previous email. Please
> disregard it in preference for the one below.
> Dear Isaac,
> As you probably are already aware, any of the common BH lexicons is
> based upon a traditional understanding of phonemics: BDB, HALOT, etc.
> The results in these lexicons are overwhelmingly fruitful (of  
> course, I
> am aware that the semantics of lexemes in the lexicons can be refined,
> but this does not detract from the overall approach), and unlike your
> own approach which produces results which are downright wrong (in the
> case of pronominal compounding), entirely questionable (eg Gen 22:9),
> entirely subjective (how do "know" that G, H, X, K, Q are  
> "equivalent",
> and not, say, G, H, P, R?), and for the most part gibberish (eg you
> "analysis" of various lexemes below).
> A brief discussion of the study of phonemics in relation to BH in
> accessible works may be found in Joüon-Muraoka §5gb and Waktke- 
> O'Connor
> §3.3.1.
> It seems to me that your great error is having unwittingly attributed
> morphemic status to phonemes, and this is why the analysis and results
> are so confused (and confusing to everyone else). This also  
> explains why
> the so-called "semantics" or "meaning" of your "phonemes" has to  
> be, and
> is, so vague. Phonemes do not semantically mean anything, but rather
> contrast and distinguish meaning. It is morphemes which have  
> semantics.
> This is where you have tripped up.
> It also seems to me that you have avoided a response to my questions
> below, reput simply: Why can every other known language be analysed
> successfully using traditional phonemics, but BH is unique in that it
> cannot be? Crosslinguistic evidence would dictate strongly that you  
> are
> more than likely wrong.
> Regards,
> David Kummerow.
>> David,
>> 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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