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Trouble Finding a Syntactical Construction


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#1 RobM

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 01:00 AM

Hi, I'm trying to find other examples of a construction in Eccl 5:8.

 

A niphal verb in the same clause as a prepositional phrase using lamed. I'm thinking that in Eccl 5:8, the lamed is functioning as the marker of the agent of the passive verb. In my research I found this function occurs in Aramaic (specifically Syriac). W-O'C (11.2.10g) mentions this can occur in Hebrew as well.

 

I need to find other examples of this construction. Doing basic searches in the search line gets me too many results (in many of which the prep phrase is not in the same clause as the niphal verb). When I try to run do a construct search using the syntax database, I get results, but they don't include Eccl 5:8.

 

Any suggestions on how to construct this search?

 

Thanks,

 

-Robert



#2 Robert Holmstedt

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 04:45 PM

A search you're describing is certainly possible and will, as you indicate, get some results.

 

However, it will not include Eccl 5.8 since I don't analyze the ל of לשׂדה as the agent of the nif'al verb נעבד. Rather, I take the PP as a whole to modify the noun מלך (i.e., an NP-internal PP, much like an adjective) and the nif'al participle to modify שׂדה. Hence: "a king of an arable country". 


Edited by Robert Holmstedt, 11 April 2013 - 08:23 PM.

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Dept. of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations
The University of Toronto
blog: ancienthebrewgrammar.wordpress.com

#3 RobM

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 04:58 PM

A search you're describing is certainly possible and will, as you indicate, get some results.

 

However, it will not include Eccl 5.8 since I don't analyze the ל of לעבד as the agent of the nif'al verb נעבד. Rather, I take the PP as a whole to modify the noun מלך (i.e., an NP-internal PP, much like an adjective) and the nif'al participle to modify שׂדה. Hence: "a king of an arable country". 

 

Dr. Holmstedt,

 

Thanks for replying.

 

As I'm sure you know, this verse, as with 5:7 before it, is quite difficult to translate and intepret. My initial reaction to your response is that it seems to me that the syntactical tagging in this instance is subjective rather than objective... depending on (your) interpretation rather than grammar (which is not objectively certain one way or the other... I assume). I say this not to impugn your tagging scheme or your analysis, only to observe that you had to go with something for this relatively obscurely constructed verse. Am I correct in this reaction?

 

Thanks.



#4 Robert Holmstedt

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 06:15 PM

There are actually many questions in your response, although you've only formulated one. 

 

Grammar does not interpret itself. There are no objective decisions. One builds an understanding of the grammar, which then serves as an analytical filter by which many ambiguities are eliminated, but never all. I would venture to say that just about every verse in our Hebrew syntax reflects a "subjective" analysis, such as with the distinction between complement and adjunct. 

 

As for Eccl 5.8, of course I chose one interpretation (that which I think is the grammatically likeliest). The other suggestions either emend the text or beg off on the grammar altogether. My analysis of it will be described more fully and justified in the Baylor Handbook that I'm writing with John Cook (Asbury) and Philip Marshall (Houston Baptist). It should be out late next Fall.


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#5 Timothy Jenney

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:07 PM

OK, Robert, I've just got to ask. Can you diagram "that which I think is the grammatically likeliest"?  ;)


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#6 Robert Holmstedt

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:59 PM

Oh, Tim -- I love such challenges!

 

"that which I think is grammatically likeliest is best"

[N [S that1 [A [L which [S I ] [P think [C [L [S (it)1 ] [P is [C [A grammatically] likeliest ]]]]]]]]]] [P is [C best ]]]

 

And I'll let Roy turn that into a cool color tree. ;-)

 

Robert


Edited by Robert Holmstedt, 11 April 2013 - 08:23 PM.

Associate Professor, Ancient Hebrew and Northwest Semitic Languages
Dept. of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations
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blog: ancienthebrewgrammar.wordpress.com

#7 Timothy Jenney

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:26 AM

Hah!  You did it—and I'd love to see the tree. :D


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