[b-hebrew] Piel or "stative usage of verb"

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Thu Oct 8 15:47:01 EDT 2009

vayyixtov Gerry
>In these two examples the intensive Pi’el verb conjugation appears to make
>sense; Pr. 4:26 “Always {intensively} make smooth” and Pr. 5:21 “are surely
>made level/smooth”.
>The context of the verses themselves appears to direct the verb פלס to be
>accepted as the intensive Pi’el.

This appears to unintentionally promote an etymological fallacy about pi``el.

the distinguishing mark of a "pi``el" verb in a Semitic language is not its
semantic context but its phonetic shape. It is the vowel-consonant pattern
the marks the word, and if the writing system doesn't show that,
-- well, that's too bad.

When a person speaks Arabic,
or Hebrew, or Aramaic, a verb's binyan is recognized by its phonetic shape,
not by it's subjective "intensivity". And when a written unvocalized
text is read
out loud by a competent speaker/reader, one hears the correct vowels in the
correct places. how does one read
 מה בקשת ma biqqash-ta?
As a pi``el   because that is what the verb is.
There is no option to read a qal pattern.

Thus, an alleged intensive context does not make p.l.s. a pi``el
as opposed to another binyan,   but its internal identity.
Did a qal or hif`il ever exist in the history of the language?
If not, then t.p.l.s. should/would be read as a pi``el   tefalles.

If two different words/usages are known to exist,
like mana 'counted' and
minna 'appointed',
then the context would help someone to read and to correctly vocalize an
ambigous written form.

But to say that a context seems 'intensive', therefore the verb "appears" to
be a pi``el is not the way that Hebrew or any Semitic language works.

E.g., if vaydabber referred to a person replying timidly, or speaking softly,
the verb vaydabber 'and he spoke' remains a pi``el because that is what the
word is. It does not change binyan from pi``el because of the lack of
the intensity
in its context !

and the reverse of this is that it is incorrect to argue that a
context is intense,
therefore the verb is a pi``el.

braxot le-Hag sameaH
Randall Buth

Randall Buth, PhD
randallbuth at gmail.com
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

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