[b-hebrew] Ex 6:6 hiphil imperative 'bring'

Jonathan Mohler jonathan.mohler at gmail.com
Thu Jul 11 01:05:51 EDT 2013

Hi Jerry,

No, you are not missing my point.  You did catch part of it, and expressed it quite well.  I was writing at break time with an iphone, so it was quite brief.  However what I am also trying to point out is the fact that beyond the form (such as hiphil), a native speaker doesn't necessarily consciously think of it as a hiphil/causative, but simply uses the form because of its meaning.  I guess I am talking about diachrony and synchrony to some extent.  At some point in the past someone used a root, and consciously created a causative meaning by means of a hiphil.  Over time, the native speaker may use the term synchronically with no awareness of the process that made the form.  In the same way that we say EAT / FEED, or LIE DOWN and ADMIT TO HOSPITAL.  

I can amuse myself as a linguist with the diachronic process that created the English word FEED, which is causative semantically, but not in form, or with the Swahili causative rule that produced the meaning ADMIT TO HOSPITAL, which is causative in form.  A native speaker of Swahili doesn't create the causative on the spot; it was created beforehand, and now he/she is just using the verb as part of their vocabulary.

This does not mean that they can't create a brand new causative verb from another root.  This is the genius of this kind of language.  In the end my point is, by analogy, that BH speakers used hiphil constructs without necessarily consciously constructing the meaning on the spot.  So if the hiphil of YC) were in fact an imperative, Chris should not see this as a problem.  I can tell someone: "feed the cat" in Swahili, even if the word for feed is a causative.  I can tell my servants to "bring out" the food, using an imperative, so that I may feed my guests.

In Exodus 8:1 The imperative "let my people go" שַׁלַּ֥ח  shallach is a causative of "go" halach.  Interesting that this primitive prefix SHA- causative shows up in Bantu languages as a causative suffix.  Another discussion;-)
Jonathan Mohler
On Jul 10, 2013, at 9:06 PM, b-hebrew-request at lists.ibiblio.org wrote:

> Hi Jonathan,
> I'm having a hard time following your logic in this paragraph.  You say, "but what is important is the resulting semantic value of the verb not the fact that a hiphil was used to arrive at the meaning."  I think I understand part of what you're getting at; but it seems that the better way to express it is simply that the hiphil has a number of nuances that can loosely come under the banner of "causative."  As well as causative, there is permissive, enabling, etc.  But the simple fact is that the verb YC) wouldn't have any of these meanings if it wasn't in the hiphil.  Or perhaps I'm missing your point.
> Blessings,
> Jerry
> Jerry Shepherd
> Taylor Seminary
> Edmonton, Alberta
> jshepherd53 at gmail.com

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