Dec 30, 2016 Helen Brown

Hebrew Masoretic Text with ETCBC Morphology

MT-ETCBC_120 Scholars interested in the linguistic analysis of the Hebrew Bible are familiar with WIVU, recently renamed ETCBC. This massive database, developed since 1977 by Eep Talstra and his associates, remains for many the gold standard for syntactical analysis of the text. However, until now, access to the database was limited to websites or software with complex search engines that were hard to master.

Accordance released their version of the ETCBC at the ETS and AAR/SBL meetings in November 2016, to great interest and appreciation from many attendees. For the first time this database is presented in a visual tree form so that the connections between words, phrases, and clauses are immediately apparent. Moreover, the familiar construct window (still unique to Accordance) is adapted to search ETCBC for general inquiries or the most specific queries. Now any Accordance user can benefit from this resource.

But for those who have not heard of WIVU or ETCBC, these acronyms reveal little. So what is this database and what does it contribute to anyone who studies the Hebrew Bible?

It starts, of course, with the Masoretic Text, the Hebrew Bible, essentially the same as the BHS. The words are tagged grammatically with slight differences from the Westminster tagging, and with both English and German glosses. The accompanying syntax database can be used in the same way as the Holmstedt Syntax for HMT-W4, but it takes a more traditional approach to syntactical analysis, and the tree structure is often simpler and easier to follow.

The immense detail available in ETCBC becomes apparent when looking at the list of syntactical tags for words, and the options in the dialogs for clauses and phrases. The database distinguishes between a part of speech and a phrase-dependent part of speech, between different phrase functions within a clause, and many types of phrases and clauses. The accompanying PDF Glossary explains the meanings of the specific terms. Accordance makes it easy to be as specific or as general as you want in your searches of the syntax.

This short post cannot possibly do justice to the ETCBC, but the following comparative screenshots should help to illustrate what must really be experienced live.

ETCBC workspace:

ETCBC Syntax
Click each image to see at full size.


HMT-W4 Syntax workspace:

HMT-W4 Syntax


ETCBC Clause dialog:

ETCBC Clause


HMT-W4 Syntax Clause dialog:

HNT-W4 Clause


MT-ETCBC_120Whether you are familiar with Hebrew syntax or not, the MT-ETCBC will greatly enhance your study of the Hebrew Bible.

Check out this short video for an overview of the ETCBC Hebrew Syntax.

Hebrew Masoretic Text with ETCBC Morphology
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