Grammatical disagreement in ספר קדושת לוי?

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by InfatigableLearner, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. InfatigableLearner

    InfatigableLearner Member

    Hello everyone, it has been awhile.

    I have two questions about the following passage from ספר קדושת לוי׃ ארבע הקדושות של פורים (Levi Isaac ben Meir of Berdichev (1740-1810)) (niqqud added by me, hopefully correctly):

    וְכֵיוָן שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה הַנֵּס בְּתוֹךְ הַטְּבָעִים שֶׁלֹּא נִשְׁתַּנּוּ הַטְּבָעִים, לָכֵן עַל יְדֵי קְרִיאַת הַמְּגִילָה נִתְעוֹרְרוּ צֵרוּפֵי אוֹתִיּוֹת הַקְּדוֹשִׁים וְהַשֵּׁמוֹת שֶׁהֵם וְהַשְׁפָּעָתָם מֵאֱלֹהֵי הָאֱלֹהִים, וְזֶהוּ עַל יְדֵי מִקְרָא מְגִילָה כַּאֲשֶׁר בִּיאַרְנוּ. וְלָכֵן קִבְּלוּ הַתּוֹרָה אָז בִּימֵי מָרְדְּכַי וְאֶסְתֵּר, וְעַל יְדֵי זֶה זָכִינוּ שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַתּוֹרָה לְאוֹתִיּוֹת כְּתָב אַשּׁוּרִית, כִּי הָאוֹתִיּוֹת מְרַמְּזִים עַל הַשְׁפָּעַת אֱלֹהִים שֶׁבְּתוֹךְ עוֹלָם הַזֶּה עוֹלָם הַטֶּבַע, לָכֵן זָכִינוּ לְאוֹתִיּוֹת הַקְּדוֹשִׁים כַּאֲשֶׁר בִּיאַרְנוּ.

    1. I believe the verb נִשְׁתַּנָּה is a nithpael perfect 3ms of שׁנה whose subject is the feminine noun הַתּוֹרָה. It thus appears to me that there is a problem of grammatical disagreement between the masculine verb and feminine noun and I would have expected the use of the feminine שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּנְּתָה. Have I assessed the text correctly here? If not, what am I missing?
    2. I believe the verb מְרַמְּזִים is a piel participle mp of רמז whose subject is the feminine noun הָאוֹתִיּוֹת. It thus appears to me once again that there is a problem of grammatical disagreement between the masculine verb and feminine noun and I would have expected the use of the feminine מְרַמְּזוֹת. Here I note that there is a masculine noun אוֹת meaning “sign” which may explain the use of the masculine verb, yet the use of the correct plural form of the feminine אוֹתִיּוֹת instead of the plural form אוֹתוֹת of the masculine does not seem to support this (the masculine would have given the wrong meaning of אוֹת at any rate). Have I assessed the text correctly here? If not, what am I missing?

  2. origumi Senior Member

    The text is full of such issues, for example:
    צֵרוּפֵי אוֹתִיּוֹת הַקְּדוֹשִׁים
    זָכִינוּ שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַתּוֹרָה
    לְאוֹתִיּוֹת כְּתָב אַשּׁוּרִית
    כִּי הָאוֹתִיּוֹת מְרַמְּזִים
    שֶׁבְּתוֹךְ עוֹלָם הַזֶּה
    לְאוֹתִיּוֹת הַקְּדוֹשִׁים

    Either sloppy Hebrew or the way Hebrew was written at the time.
  3. InfatigableLearner

    InfatigableLearner Member

    Thank you for the reply Origami,

    I also felt there were other problems with this text. I thought that אוֹתִיּוֹת הַקְּדוֹשִׁים, seemingly intending the adjective as an attributive (i.e. “the holy letters”), would have required the feminine הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת as well as the definite article for אוֹתִיּוֹת. As the text stands, I could only see it meaning “the letters of the holy ones” with the adjective being substantive. כְּתָב אַשּׁוּרִית I didn’t think about, but now that you mention it כְּתָב אַשּׁוּרִי with the masculine would indeed be the grammatically correct phrase. Finally, though the edition I mainly consulted gave עוֹלָם הַזֶּה, others had the abbreviation עוה"ז here which was certainly in the original text. As such, I thought this might be a fixed expression whose use of the definite article is not always required (I note that a Google gives 48,200 hits for the search "עולם הזה"). In the end I am just glad that the issues I did note were indeed real grammatical problems and your further identifications tell me that I need to be ever more vigilant when reading through these older texts.

  4. origumi Senior Member

    עולם הזה, אותיות (ה)קדושים, כתב אשורית and so on are indeed common expressions in ספרות הלכתית of certain periods.
  5. InfatigableLearner

    InfatigableLearner Member

    If such expressions were common (and thus acceptable to those authors and their readers), I wonder whether the two disagreements I noted between the verbs and their subjects might be considered part of the same "ungrammatical yet acceptable" Hebrew of the period or should be viewed as of another order of error and thus problematic even at that time. Essentially, how does one differentiate between "acceptable" grammatical errors and unacceptable ones?

  6. arielipi Senior Member

    To me it seems as he thought otiyot and torah is either male or irregular treated(such as nashim), though the second is unlikely.

    @infatig - the things that are acceptable are those that have become rooted, or used so much over the centuries that its acceptable within its subject/paradigm.
  7. C_J Member

    Such phenomena are very common in certain literature. This sort of language is still found in wide use by certain groups. One that I can readily think of is the American Hassidim/Haredim that don't speak modern Hebrew. I also noticed that they use significantly more Aramaic words/forms than Modern Hebrew speakers.

    Here's a random quote from "Igros Moshe" (1959 and onwards) I marked non standard usage in italics.

    הנה עצם הדין מצד מנהגי הקהילות שאצלינו הוא לא כהשיטה ראשונה ברמ"א יו"ד סימן שע"ו בסופו שאין מקום לקדיש זו אלא על אב ואם בלבד אבל לא בשאר קרובים, אלא דנהגו לומר קדיש גם על שאר קרובים כשאין להם בנים וגם שוכרין אינשי לומר קדיש..."

    These examples are used consistently through the entire book, so perhaps this can be considered as a separate "dialect"?

    PS: Please note that I'm not saying that this language is "wrong", I just said that it's different (in other words, there is no need to draw out pitchforks and torches / bolts of lightning, thank you very much)

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