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Draft Syntax Manual — readers wanted


Robert Holmstedt
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Dear syntax module users,

 
I have finished drafting the manual for the Hebrew syntax database. The manual turned out to be a primer on Hebrew syntax with reference to the database. 
 
Before I make the manual fully public, I am interested in having a handful of database users read through the draft and provide feedback concerning usability, clarity, etc. 
 
If you are interested, please message me and I'll send you a PDF file on Monday.
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I'm willing!

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Thank you to all who have messaged me. You'll get a PDF by the morning.

I believe this will be enough eyes to help me revise usefully.

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To those who have been reading the draft syntax manual, I offer my sincere thanks. You have caught many grammatical infelicities (the file contains layers that are over seven years old, from the beginning of the database project) and asked for clarity on important points.

 

Now I have another, larger question. This manual has turned out to be a combination database manual + Hebrew syntax primer/handbook. I am discussing the future of this as print+digital (Accordance module) product with a publisher tomorrow. Now my question -- how could I revise the existing document to be more useful in both media -- as a book on your shelf and as an Accordance module? Keep in mind, the goal is less than a reference grammar but more than a textbook (think "Waltke and O'Connor light, but linguistically updated").

 

I appreciate your input. You can respond in this thread or message me.

Edited by Robert Holmstedt
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Hi Robert,

Thanks for the read. It is an important work that should be published.

In print and electronic versions I would like: an index, references to the relevant sections in WOC (as preliminary or complementary reading), and references to your Beginning Biblical Hebrew; in the electronic version, hyperlinks to all of the above, and of course to the biblical verses.

Regards,

Michel

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Hi, Robert!

 

I must admit that I am unfamiliar with many of the terms linguists use. I've been "reading around" many of them. I think a glossary of some kind would be really helpful.

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Excellent suggestions, both. Indexing is simple (thanks to a great piece of software I found) and I have a thorough glossary I've been using for my Baylor handbook volumes.

Edited by Robert Holmstedt
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I'm excited to hear this may become a grammar/primer/handbook. It seems to me there is a plenitude of introductory Hebrew texts out there but too few (particularly linguistically updated) options for where to go next.

 
As someone who doesn't have much background in the area, I find it difficult at times to know what parts of this are established principles of Hebrew grammar that everybody (well, most everybody) agrees on and what parts are specific to the "Chomskyan generative theoretical orientation" (from the intro) +/- other positions held by the authors. For the purposes of an Accordance manual, it's not really necessary that I sort this out since the workings of the syntax database follow along with the theoretical framework chosen (and I certainly have no objection!), but for the student of Hebrew more generally it might be nice to have a little more explanation of what Chomskyan generative grammar is and, along the way, at what points alternative formulations might be offered (which may build on Michel's suggestion to include references to WOC -- there already are several of these, at least one of which does indeed suggest a different approach). This may also make it more attractive as a grammar for consultation and classroom use by Hebraists who might not agree with the authors on all of the details. 
 
(I haven't finished reading the manual, so there may be more of this material already there which I've missed, in which case I apologize.)
Edited by Susan
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This is a good suggestion in principle but will be difficult in practice. For instance, many of O'Connor's ideas in Waltke and O'Connor are basically generative. And if I tried to compare to, say, Andersen and Forbes Biblical Hebrew Grammar Visualized, sorting out the Chomskyan generative principles I accept from the non-Chomsky (but still) generative prinicples they use would be a horrible mess (I'm not even sure it could be done well, given oodles of time, and I know Dean Forbes, so I'm assuming I could ask him for clarification at many points). Where would I start and stop in the comparison? Such comparative additions would almost double the pages and change the focus from a simple description of the grammar to a comparison of theories. 

 

What's interesting (and good) about this request is that it lines up with my push to be transparent in the background linguistic theory and hopefully reflects a greater user/reader sensitivity to the importance of theory. Who would have asked a similar question about Joüon and Muraoka's grammar or Waltke and O'Connor's in 1990 when they came out? No one. 

 

Still, I'll give it further thought.

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Robert,

Thanks for the read. Good work. I hope to see this as an Accordance module very soon. It will prove extremely helpful for those wanting to better understand the syntax database theory and create more logical construct searches.

As you stated, I did notice the sharp decline in Accordance examples beginning on page 58. I'm not sure if you are finished with the Sample Searches, or still planning to add the images, but it would be helpful to include them.

 

As an Accordance module, it would be nice to package (and link) this with a set of saved workspaces that include the Sample Searches. It would be nice to have a set of pre-made construct searches from which to draw. I'm sure you've already amassed quite a collection in the development of this project.

 

I don't think you should worry about adding more syntax tree examples. At first I was getting tired of flipping back and forth from the pdf to Accordance. However, when this is in Accordance, users will be able to simply click the your example Scripture links to see the tree diagram in a recycled zone. 

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I'm excited to hear this may become a grammar/primer/handbook. It seems to me there is a plenitude of introductory Hebrew texts out there but too few (particularly linguistically updated) options for where to go next.

 
As someone who doesn't have much background in the area, I find it difficult at times to know what parts of this are established principles of Hebrew grammar that everybody (well, most everybody) agrees on and what parts are specific to the "Chomskyan generative theoretical orientation" (from the intro) +/- other positions held by the authors. For the purposes of an Accordance manual, it's not really necessary that I sort this out since the workings of the syntax database follow along with the theoretical framework chosen (and I certainly have no objection!), but for the student of Hebrew more generally it might be nice to have a little more explanation of what Chomskyan generative grammar is and, along the way, at what points alternative formulations might be offered (which may build on Michel's suggestion to include references to WOC -- there already are several of these, at least one of which does indeed suggest a different approach). This may also make it more attractive as a grammar for consultation and classroom use by Hebraists who might not agree with the authors on all of the details. 
 
(I haven't finished reading the manual, so there may be more of this material already there which I've missed, in which case I apologize.)

 

 

I've asked a similar thing in the past and would certainly welcome more information on it.

 

Thx

D

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Hi everyone,

 

If, as Robert said, the published Manual would update WOC on matters of syntax, I thought it would be helpful to link to the relevant sections. While I would appreciate any comments from Robert on the nature of the updates, e.g., building on WOC, or jettisoning and starting from scratch, I understand the difficulties involved. I assumed the analysis would be left up to the reader.

 

Robert and others are laying the (published) groundwork for a paradigmatic shift that will drag the majority of students learning biblical Hebrew away from the traditional approach to a more rigorous linguistic one. In the meantime I see the need for bridges in the Manual, e.g., along with a glossary, an equivalency chart of traditional and newer linguistic terms. Of course, this could also become an occasion for discussing theory.

 

Even though there wouldn't be many links to Beginning Biblical Hebrew, they would help students bridge the gap on a few points. I've asked for the book at

https://www.accordancebible.com/forums/topic/13703-beginning-biblical-hebrew-a-grammar-and-illustrated-reader-by-cook-holmstedt/?do=findComment&comment=65149.

If Acc ever offers it, I hope Robert revises it and the Manual to include more cross references, even if it entails expanding the teaching grammar itself.

 

Regards,

 

Michel

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Jordan -- I currently have 40 saved searches that I will make available with the manual/module (or perhaps sooner, if there is interest).

 

דניאל -- at some point explaining more theory in a descriptive work moves it from being a description of the language in question to a description of the theory. Fortunately for those of you interested, John Cook and I have begun a book project for which linguistically trained contributors will describe the main linguistic approaches and provide 3-4 case studies on BH. We're tentatively calling it "Linguistics for Hebraists and Biblical Scholars". Give us about 2 years and it should be in print.

 

Michel -- since I think WOC is the clearest currently in print and I fancy that Beginning Biblical Hebrew textbook somewhat (!), I think I can work in relevant references to both throughout. 

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דניאל -- at some point explaining more theory in a descriptive work moves it from being a description of the language in question to a description of the theory. Fortunately for those of you interested, John Cook and I have begun a book project for which linguistically trained contributors will describe the main linguistic approaches and provide 3-4 case studies on BH. We're tentatively calling it "Linguistics for Hebraists and Biblical Scholars". Give us about 2 years and it should be in print.

 

 

Way interested in this. Good luck with it.

Any chance of a contribution or two in it to see application to Greek also ?

 

Thx

D

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After reading the comments, I'd like to suggest you include an annotated bibliography (if you haven't already) that includes other Hebrew databases and linguistic theories. It would be really helpful for those of us trying to navigate these unfamiliar waters.

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Hi Timothy and Daniel,

It's not that I wouldn't like this, but IMHO it is asking for too much. Of course I could be wrong. If Robert thought an annotated bibliography was beyond the scope of his Sketch, perhaps he would consider something less ambitious like adding an appendix for further reading, with works grouped into topics/themes in a recommended reading order.

Regards,

Michel

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Well, the linguistic theories will be covered by the edited volume we are starting. And a session in the existing databases is occurring at IOSOT in South Africa on a month. John Cook is presenting on our database. And I believe they intend to publish the papers afterward.

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Maybe "annotated" was too strong a word. A "starter bibliography" would be nice, though. Some sort of label for each work (e.g. Chomskyan, generative, etc.) would help novices navigate the resources.

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Unfortunately, brief, unqualified labels wouldn't be fair to most works, since they are (like our database) thoughtfully divergent from neat labels.


But maybe I'm just not thrilled at such a time-consuming addition.  <_< (whatever that emoticon means, it looks right)

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  • 2 weeks later...

My sincere thanks to those who spent hours reading the draft and providing feedback. The result is much better for your efforts.

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My sincere thanks to those who spent hours reading the draft and providing feedback. The result is much better for your efforts.

 

It was a pleasure thank you! 

And, I hope to see an Accordance module and/or a paper version of it in the near future.

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