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

David Kummerow farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Wed Jun 25 00:59:36 EDT 2008

Dear Isaac,

There is nothing really ill-defined about the traditional analysis of BH 
phonemes to date. However, there is with yours since you mistakenly 
attribute morphemic status to phonemes. It seems you are not even sure 
what a morpheme is ("I think that 'morpheme' is just a high sounding 
coverup for 'I don't know what this thing is'."), yet you persistently 
attempt etymological reconstruction of every BH lexeme! People do NOT 
use the term "morpheme" as a cover-up for not knowing what something is, 
but for a label of the smallest linguistic unit that bears meaning. That 
is consistent -- there is no cover-up. The only one operating with an 
ill-defined concept of phoneme and morpheme seems to be you Isaac. Hence 
it is not surprising that you reach results that only you accept!

Regarding an example, there is a couple of examples in Joüon-Muraoka if 
you will but look. I also personally gave some examples on how to do it 
when we were discussing your theory of pronominal compounding which 
demonstrated your theory to be fallacious.

David Kummerow.

> David,
> 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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