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Hebrew Studies 39 (1998) 229 Reviews WORD-ORDER VARIATION IN ISAIAH 40-55: A FUNCTIONAL PERSPECTIVE. By Michael Rosenbaum. Studia Semitica Neerlandica. pp. xii + 259. Assen: Van Gorcum, 1997. Paper. Dfl. 120.00. In this new study on Isaiah 40-55, originally a dissertation submitted to Brandeis University in 1996, Michael Rosenbaum presents "a limited response to the call for a modem syntax of Biblical Hebrew which applies the insight of late twentieth century linguistics" (p. 4). The linguistic way Rosenbaum pursues in his reading is influenced by a functional approach to language-in particular functional grammar-as well as Russian formalism , Prague School of linguistics and discourse analysis. More specifically, Rosenbaum's purpose is to illuminate the function of word-order variation in verbal sentences in order to "further our understanding of the communicative intent and linguistic expression of Deutero-Isaiah" (p. 25). Rosenbaum's work is motivated by the fact that traditional studies of Biblical Hebrew grammar are largely dependent upon grammars that were written in the nineteenth century, which are characterized by a theoretical foundation which is no longer shared. By reference to F. I. Anderson's critique of this (in The Sentence in Biblical Hebrew [The Hague: Mouton, 1974], p. 18), the traditional approaches to Hebrew grammar are explained as "too metaphysical...too psychological...too etymological" and too little concerned about its theoretical foundation. Rosenbaum also claims that confusion has arisen in traditional grammars when prose and poetry are mixed together. Rosenbaum insists that, at least initially, prose and poetic texts need to be studied separately. Based on a functional model, he seeks to develop a new meta-language for use in discussing Biblical Hebrew syntax in Isaiah 40-55. The book starts with an introduction to the functional model where the main assumptions of a functional paradigm are presented: The function of language is universal; it is an instrument used for communicative purposes. Because of this, language "has adapted itself structurally in a limited number of ways to the functional pressures of how to communicate in the most adequate and efficient means possible" (p. 7). Further, "language is an interpersonal communication system, so form and function must be studied jointly" (p. 8). Central to a functional approach is to stress that the relation between the "sender's" intention and the "addressee's" interpretation is mediated, not established through the linguistic expression. This implies that a partial verbalization ("pragmatic information") will normally be Hebrew Studies 39 (1998) 230 Reviews sufficient (pp. 14-15). Chapter 2 is a further presentation of the pmgmatic functions "topic," "setting," and "theme," whereas in chapter 3, the function of "focus" is introduced. In chapter 4, three "extra-clausal constituents " (ECC, Le. "parenthetical," "vocative," and "tail") are treated, in chapter 5 "language independent preferred order of constituents" (LIPOC), and in chapter 6 "foregrounding" (or "de-familiarization"). During the presentation of the terms belonging to a functional meta-language, illustmtions are given from Isaiah 40-55 when appropriate. In a concluding chapter, Rosenbaum sums up the value of a functional pamdigm to explicate the significance of word-order variation in Isaiah 40-55. At the end of the book, we fmd seven appendices which contain a taxonomy of wordorder variations, as well as samples of these within Isaiah 40-55. Of the two basic functional patterns, the nominal and the verbal pattern, Rosenbaum treats the last, which has the order Verb-Subject-Object (VSO). In addition, he treats alternative word-orders to this basic functional pattern, e.g., initial special position, discourse particle, theme external to the predication proper, and tail. After his comprehensive study of word-order in Isaiah 40-55, Rosenbaum concludes with some inter-related observations. Concerning word-order, he claims that Deutero-Isaiah makes frequent use of special positions to mark certain functions. He especially emphasizes the occurrences of variation of the word-order to accentuate the language in these texts. Further, Rosenbaum seeks to eliminate the use of the "specious term" "emphasis" as an explanation for variations in wordorder . By his pmgmatic-functional terminology, he aims to give a better explanation of these variations by their variety of functions rather than forcing them to all answer the same...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 229-231
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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