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

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Wed Jun 25 08:23:16 EDT 2008


I think that by now we have come full circle, and are also possibly  
taxing the patience of the other members of this list.
You are saying that the morpheme is the "smallest linguistic unit  
that bears meaning". I could take you to task as to what is  
'smallest', what is 'unit' and what is 'bears', but suffice it to say  
that it relies on this vague and ill defined concept of 'meaning',  
making the science of linguistics appear to me as but one big tautology.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Jun 25, 2008, at 12:59 AM, David Kummerow wrote:

> 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.
> Regards,
> 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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