Patterns of noun derivation

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kwrandolph
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Patterns of noun derivation

Postby kwrandolph » Mon Jun 04, 2018 4:06 pm

Dear All:

Noun derivations from verbs (as well as other nouns and adjectives).

“Nouns are derived from verbal roots.” That is a very common belief for Biblical Hebrew. But I am one of the first to say “Not all.” There are many nouns for which no verbal roots have survived, nor even evidence that they ever existed. Some are known loanwords from other languages. Others we just don’t know. The bottom line is that the opening statement above is only partially true, for only a subset of Biblical Hebrew nouns.

In English (my native tongue) there are common rules used to derive nouns from verbs. For example, “to act” has the derivations “act” (at least two words), acting, “action”, “activity”, “actor”, and more. Are there similar rules for the derivation of nouns from Biblical Hebrew verbs? What meanings would such rules impart to derived nouns? Has anyone done a study to answer these questions?

Just as knowing these patterns in English affects how we understand words, and how we do lexicography in English, so understanding the patterns for Biblical Hebrew can also influence how we understand and recognize nouns in Biblical Hebrew. I don’t claim that what I mention below is complete, nor even correct, rather I see it as a point of departure from which to initiate discussion.

Interestingly, it seems that such patterns are more noticeable when reading Tanakh without points, than with the “help” of the Masoretic points.

What follows are some patterns that I have noticed:

§ Unpointed text written the same as the third person masculine singular Qal verb: this form could be the Qal participle form and is often so pointed by the Masoretes. It appears that this form has four meanings (were they pronounced the same, or differently, in Biblical times? Today we don’t know).
• usually pointed as a shegolate noun, an object that is the result of an action
• agent, the person or object that does an action
• refers to the doing of the action, similar to the adding of -ing to English verbs
• refers to possibility or ability, “…can act…”.

(When looking at conversations recorded in narrative sections of Tanakh where one can recognize which conjugation is meant in an unpointed text (which rules out all third person masculine singular as subjects for study) describing present, indicative action (which would be conjugated as indicative present tense in English), it is found that the majority of such sentences are conjugated using a Qatal verb with the syntax of subject, verb, object.)

§ Noun in the form of the third person feminine singular Qal participle: basically this refers to a subject where the gender is feminine and the agent that does the action.

§ Written the same as the niphal participle: refers to the person or object being acted upon.

§ Written with a prefixed Mem. This is the same form as the Piel, Pual and Hophal participles. I’ve noticed four uses of this form:
• repeated or continuous action (imperfective use)
• a place where repeated or continuous action takes place
• the passive causation of an action, or an object that makes an action to take place.
• the agent for any of the above three actions.

§ Written as a Hiphil participle:
• refers to the person or object that causes an action
• is a caused action.



Nouns derived from other nouns:

§ Masculine plural: When used with a masculine noun (usually animate) and often in the construct state, refers to the state of the other noun, e.g. youth, age, death, etc.

§ Feminization of a masculine noun, by the addition of a Heh suffix, there are three patterns that I’ve noticed:
• sex, differentiation of male and female of persons and animals
• concrete (person, object, place) changed to an abstract (idea, action)
• single or individual person or object, changed to a body of individuals, a collection.
What can complicate matters here is that the same unpointed form may fall into two of the above categories (were they pronounced the same or differently? Today we don’t know). An example is עלמה which in most contexts refers to a female virgin (sex differentiation), but in Proverbs 30:19 refers to the abstract idea of “the unknown” (abstraction).
Another complication is those verbs that end in a heh making a simple Qal participle also end in a heh, will then sometimes have an abstract derivative written without the final heh.

§ Adding a waw nun suffix: does this form indicate a generalization, not anything or anyone in specific?
• the majority of such nouns are proper names.

§ Adding a waw tau suffix:
• indicating state, status, condition
• for verbs ending in a heh, the same as adding -ing to English verbs to make nouns (probably the most common use in Hebrew)
• to indicate objects used in accomplishing tasks

§ Adding a yod tau suffix:
• with lamed heh or ayen doubled verbs, making into a noun
• changes to an adjective

§ Adding a Tau suffix. This one is harder to recognize in so far as it has the same form as the feminine singular in construct so that when it’s in construct, it appears to be a feminine singular. This form appears to be masculine singular. The Masoretes assumed that this form is a defective feminine plural lacking the waw preceding the tau, and so pointed it that way. There seem to be two meanings connected with this form:
• a generalization. Perhaps the most common being אבת which doesn’t refer to specific fathers, rather to ancestors in general.
• status indicator of having done something or of having something done to the subject.

Adding a tau prefix: (I haven’t really studied this yet, but a couple come to mind:
תבנית model, used to plan a construction Ex 25:9, 40, Dt 4:16–8, 1C 28:11–2, 18–9 ← בנה
תחבלות binding (guiding) principles Pr 1:5, 11:14, 12:5, 20:18, 24:6 ← חבל
)


Nouns derived from adjectives:

§ There’s only one pattern that I’ve noticed so far, namely adjectives changed to feminine nouns that refer to abstract ideas or actions.

Now for me to put on my tin-foil hat so you can throw your bricks ;-)

Just my 2¢

Karl W. Randolph.

talmid56
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Re: Patterns of noun derivation

Postby talmid56 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:19 pm

Very helpful, Karl. Aren't there also some nouns that begin with a mem prefix derived from verbs? E.g., מושב from ישב, Psa. 1:1. Is there a rule that applies there?
Dewayne Dulaney
דואיין דוליני

כִּ֤י שֶׁ֨מֶשׁ׀ וּמָגֵן֮ יְהוָ֪ה אֱלֹ֫הִ֥ים חֵ֣ן וְ֭כָבוֹד יִתֵּ֣ן יְהוָ֑ה לֹ֥א יִמְנַע־ט֝֗וֹב לַֽהֹלְכִ֥ים בְּתָמִֽים׃
--(E 84:11) 84:12 תהלים

Isaac Fried
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Re: Patterns of noun derivation

Postby Isaac Fried » Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:43 pm

Yes, initial mem, as in מַּעְדֵּר = מה-עדר MA-ADER, 'hoe', as in Isaiah 7:25
וְכֹל הֶהָרִים אֲשֶׁר בַּמַּעְדֵּר יֵעָדֵרוּן לֹא תָבוֹא שָׁמָּה יִרְאַת שָׁמִיר וָשָׁיִת וְהָיָה לְמִשְׁלַח שׁוֹר וּלְמִרְמַס שֶׂה
NIV: "As for all the hills once cultivated by the hoe, you will no longer go there for fear of the briers and thorns; they will become places where cattle are turned loose and where sheep run."
KJV: "And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle."
This מַּעְדֵּר = מה-עדר MA-ADER has nothing to do with the tending of an עֵדֶר EDER, 'flock, herd', as in Gen. 29:2
וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה בְאֵר בַּשָּׂדֶה וְהִנֵּה שָׁם שְׁלֹשָׁה עֶדְרֵי צֹאן רֹבְצִים עָלֶיהָ כִּי מִן הַבְּאֵר הַהִוא יַשְׁקוּ הָעֲדָרִים וְהָאֶבֶן גְּדֹלָה עַל פִּי הַבְּאֵר
NIV: "There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large."

Yet the roots עדר and אדר are related, with אדר, like עדר, referring to a vast number, to a large quantity, to an enormous aggregation, as in
Ex. 15:10
נָשַׁפְתָּ בְרוּחֲךָ כִּסָּמוֹ יָם צָלֲלוּ כַּעוֹפֶרֶת בְּמַיִם אַדִּירִים
KJV: "Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters."

Also related is עתר, 'large and loose', as in Ezekiel 8:11
וְשִׁבְעִים אִישׁ מִזִּקְנֵי בֵית יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיַאֲזַנְיָהוּ בֶן שָׁפָן עֹמֵד בְּתוֹכָם עֹמְדִים לִפְנֵיהֶם וְאִישׁ מִקְטַרְתּוֹ בְּיָדוֹ וַעֲתַר עֲנַן הַקְּטֹרֶת עֹלֶה
KJV: "And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up."
Also referring to a considerable flow of pleading words, as in Gen. 25:21.
וַיֶּעְתַּר יִצְחָק לַיהוה לְנֹכַח אִשְׁתּוֹ כִּי עֲקָרָה הִוא וַיֵּעָתֶר לוֹ יהוה וַתַּהַר רִבְקָה אִשְׁתּוֹ
KJV: "And Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived."
I would say that וַיֵּעָתֶר is 'relented'.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

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SteveMiller
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Re: Patterns of noun derivation

Postby SteveMiller » Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:31 pm

kwrandolph wrote:§ Feminization of a masculine noun, by the addition of a Heh suffix, there are three patterns that I’ve noticed:
• sex, differentiation of male and female of persons and animals
• concrete (person, object, place) changed to an abstract (idea, action)
• single or individual person or object, changed to a body of individuals, a collection.
What can complicate matters here is that the same unpointed form may fall into two of the above categories (were they pronounced the same or differently? Today we don’t know). An example is עלמה which in most contexts refers to a female virgin (sex differentiation), but in Proverbs 30:19 refers to the abstract idea of “the unknown” (abstraction).
Another complication is those verbs that end in a heh making a simple Qal participle also end in a heh, will then sometimes have an abstract derivative written without the final heh.


Thanks Karl. Do you have another example of this case besides Prov 30:19, since I think the meaning of female virgin works fine there.
Sincerely yours,
Steve Miller
Detroit
http://www.voiceInWilderness.info
Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)

kwrandolph
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Re: Patterns of noun derivation

Postby kwrandolph » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:56 am

SteveMiller wrote:
kwrandolph wrote:§ Feminization of a masculine noun, by the addition of a Heh suffix, there are three patterns that I’ve noticed:
• sex, differentiation of male and female of persons and animals
• concrete (person, object, place) changed to an abstract (idea, action)
• single or individual person or object, changed to a body of individuals, a collection.
What can complicate matters here is that the same unpointed form may fall into two of the above categories (were they pronounced the same or differently? Today we don’t know). An example is עלמה which in most contexts refers to a female virgin (sex differentiation), but in Proverbs 30:19 refers to the abstract idea of “the unknown” (abstraction).
Another complication is those verbs that end in a heh making a simple Qal participle also end in a heh, will then sometimes have an abstract derivative written without the final heh.


Thanks Karl. Do you have another example of this case besides Prov 30:19, since I think the meaning of female virgin works fine there.


If you mean, is there another case where עלמה refers to the abstract “unknown”? I don’t know of any. The noun is used only nine times in Tanakh.

If you mean, do I know of any other cases where the same spelling can have two different derivation patterns? Again I don’t know, this study is still in its initial phases.

As for עלמה meaning “virgin” in Proverbs 30:19, I have two problems with that:
• What is meant by “in a virgin”? If the physical sexual act is meant, then the “virgin” is not a virgin. In fact, this is the principle argument given by those who want to deny the virgin birth, that “virgin” is not meant in Isaiah 7:14. If you mean other than the physical act, then what? To what is being referred here?
• Context—in each of the other cases mentioned in this proverb, we are dealing with an unknown—what is the next move? If you want to make עלמה mean “virgin”, that breaks the pattern of the proverb. But if we recognize that one of the derivation patterns of adding a final ה onto a masculine noun is to change it to an abstract meaning, then “the unknown” makes sense in this context. When a young man starts out in life, there’s no telling what will happen, he’s setting out into the unknown.

Looking over the list that I presented, I realized that I missed the waw-mem suffix. But there are only three nouns that have that pattern, and I haven’t figured out what that pattern means.

I hope this helps.

Karl W. Randolph.

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Re: Patterns of noun derivation

Postby SteveMiller » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:55 pm

kwrandolph wrote:
SteveMiller wrote:
kwrandolph wrote:
Thanks Karl. Do you have another example of this case besides Prov 30:19, since I think the meaning of female virgin works fine there.


If you mean, is there another case where עלמה refers to the abstract “unknown”? I don’t know of any. The noun is used only nine times in Tanakh.

If you mean, do I know of any other cases where the same spelling can have two different derivation patterns? Again I don’t know, this study is still in its initial phases.

I meant an example of where a feminine form of a noun represents an abstract concept.

kwrandolph wrote:As for עלמה meaning “virgin” in Proverbs 30:19, I have two problems with that:
• What is meant by “in a virgin”? If the physical sexual act is meant, then the “virgin” is not a virgin. In fact, this is the principle argument given by those who want to deny the virgin birth, that “virgin” is not meant in Isaiah 7:14. If you mean other than the physical act, then what? To what is being referred here?

Prov 30:19d refers to courtship between a strong young man and a virgin, which is beyond logic.
It is in contrast to the adulterous woman with no feeling of shame in v20.
Sincerely yours,
Steve Miller
Detroit
http://www.voiceInWilderness.info
Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)

kwrandolph
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Re: Patterns of noun derivation

Postby kwrandolph » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:27 am

SteveMiller wrote:I meant an example of where a feminine form of a noun represents an abstract concept.


There are many such examples. To list just a few, some starting with aleph, we have in a list with the masculine referring to a physical, concrete object, the feminine to an abstraction:


‎אביון needy (person), אביונה neediness, want Ko 12:5 αλ
‎אהב love, a person who is loved: lover, friend, אהבה love, referring to the emotion of love, מאהב lover, close friend σ חבב to cherish Dt 33:3 αλ
‎איב enemy, איבה enmity
‎אכל food, that which is eaten, אכלהֿ nourishment, that which can be eaten
‎אמון trustworthy one, trustworthy worker 2S 20:19, Ps 12:2, 31:24, La 4:5, אמונה firmness, steadiness Ex 17:12 ⇒ trustworthiness Jr 5:1; work one is entrusted with 1 Ch 9:22, באמונה “in trustworthiness” ⇒ trustworthily 2K 22:7, 2C 19:9
‎אמן guardian (of children), educator, Amen, אמנה brace (⇐ to make trustworthy), education
‎אסף one who gathers in Mc 7:1, plural place where something is gathered in Ne 12:25, 1C 26:15, 17, אספה collection Is 24:22
‎אפל dark and obscure (place) Ps 11:2, 91:6, Jb 10:22, 30:20 where no light shines Am 5:20, אפלה dark(ness), obscurity Ex 10:22, Is 8:22, Pr 4:19, 7:9
‎אשם guilty, guilt offering, אשמה guilt

There are many more such examples, therefore I have no problem with recognizing עלמה in Proverbs 30:19 as referring to the abstract idea “the unknown”.

As for contrasting a pure virgin with a woman who commits adultery, that’s not what the verse says. What it says about the adulterous woman is that she is completely untrustworthy, one cannot know what she’ll do next.

Karl W. Randolph.


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