[b-hebrew] cancellable dynamicity

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Jul 1 06:15:00 EDT 2009


On Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 3:47 PM, Yitzhak Sapir<yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 7:16 PM, K Randolph wrote:
>> In Biblical Hebrew it does not mean specifically “rainwater”, rather
>> in the Bible it is used with well water and water from springs and
>> streams. In Song of Songs 4:16 the verb is used with spices, not
>> water. The few times it is used in connection with clouds, even there
>> it can be used in the same way as we say in English that “clouds pour
>> down water”. Another thing I noticed with NZL is that it is never used
>> in the Bible apart from a poetic context. So much for the
>> lexicographic considerations.
> Hello Karl,
> Whether NZL is used only in poetic contexts or not, the fact of the
> matter is that NZL does appear to lose those attributes that Olsen
> claims are not cancelable.

This is not a good example to push that point, because it is used here
as a noun. Nouns that are defined by an action can be still without
the verb losing its attributes, e.g. a spokesperson, one defined by
the participle of to be outspoken, can be silent.

>  Now, the question might be -- does this
> mean that NZL is not inherently dynamic, etc.  But the actual
> identification of dynamic, etc. attributes is relatively subjective.  It
> depends on some common notion and understanding of semantics.
> Does NZL imply some kind of change?  I can't be sure, because
> to me it seems to imply the same kind of elements (movement,
> primarily) that is present in other dynamic situations (run) but
> how do I know?  Olsen says that a wink or a cough is not durative
> -- it is instantaneous.  This is actually debated in studies by
> others who study lexical aspect.  The idea of a dynamic verb losing
> its dynamicity when used in construct clauses as a participle is
> present also in 1 Ki 14:28 t? hrcym, and Ezek 40:44 l$kwt $rym.
> It is really hard to see in these  phrases any of the original
> dynamicity that marked the original nouns, and in these cases
> rwc 'run' and $yr 'sing' are explicitly verbs that are identified by
> Olsen as dynamic.  Olsen's research may be useful in studies
> of lexical aspect, but it is important to understand that even
> experts in lexical aspect don't always accept her conclusions,
> and may in some cases modify, reject, or build upon them.  If we
> force ourselves to understand phrases such as "t? hrcym" --
> perhaps the room where the "runners" stood awaiting orders --
> as dynamic, we are letting the theory interpret the evidence
> (since the semantics of the sentence are the evidence for
> theories of semantics) rather than let the evidence lead us to the
> theory.  It's a recipe for circular argumentation.  Incidentally, Olsen's
> theory may be more attuned to Modern English where "room of the
> running" or "bottle of the raining" are not as common.  Naturally,
> most research on lexical aspect is directed at Modern English.
> This does not always mean it is immediately applicable to other
> languages.
> Yitzhak Sapir

Not having read Olsen, I can neither attack nor defend her
conclusions. And as you say, her conclusions may have validity only
for Indo-European languages.

What I do know is that when a Hebrew verb is nominalized through
participial usage, the actions of the object so designated do not
affect the meaning of the verb. I mentioned the example of a
spokesperson, you in 1 Kings 14:28 mention runners, in both cases
dealing with people who are designated by the job they do. But the
runner can be asleep without it affecting the properties of the verb,
the same way with a spokesperson who can be silent without affecting
the meaning of the verb to be outspoken, so an object that is
recognized by its flowing can be still, unmoving, without it changing
the meaning of ‘flowing’.

In English, we add -er or -or to the end of verbs to nominalize them,
Biblical Hebrew used participles.

Thus, this is a bad example to try to prove your case.

Karl W. Randolph.

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