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Bible Lexicons

Gesenius Hebrew Grammer

Part 33

§33. Pronominal Suffixes.

Brockelmann, Semit. Sprachwiss., p. 100 f.; Grundriss, i. 306 ff. J. Barth, ‘Beiträge zur Suffixlehre des Nerdsemit.,’ in the Amer. Journ. of Sem. Lang., 1901, p. 193 ff.

1. The independent principal forms of the personal pronoun (the separate pronoun), given in the preceding section, express only the nominative.[1] The accusative and genitive are expressed by forms, usually shorter, joined to the end of verbs, nouns, and particles (pronominal suffixes or simply suffixes); e.g. הוּ‎ (toneless) and וֹ‎ (from āhû) eum and eius, קְטַלְתִּ֫יהוּ‎ I have killed him (also קְטַלְתִּיו‎), קְטַלְתָּ֫הוּ‎ or (with āhû contracted into ô) קְטַלְתּ֫וֹ‎ thou hast killed him; אוֹר֫וֹ‎ (also אוֹרֵ֫הוּ‎) lux eius.

The same method is employed in all the other Semitic languages, as well as in the Egyptian, Persian, Finnish, Tartar, and others; in Greek, Latin, and German we find only slight traces of the kind, e.g. German, er gab’s for er gab es; Greek, πατήρ μου for πατὴρ ἐμοῦ; Latin, eccum, eccos, &c., in Plautus and Terence for ecce eum, ecce eos.

2. The case which these suffixes represent is—

(a) When joined to verbs, the accusative (cf., however, §117x), e.g. קְטַלְתִּ֫יהוּ‎ I have killed him.

(b) When affixed to substantives, the genitive (like πατήρ μου, pater eius). They then serve as possessive pronouns, e.g. אָבִי‎ (ʾābh-î) my father, סוּסוֹ‎ his horse, which may be either equus eius or equus suus.

(c) When joined to particles, either the genitive or accusative, according as the particles originally expressed the idea of a noun or a verb, e.g. בֵּינִי‎, literally interstitium mei, between me (cf. mea causa); but הִנְנִי‎ behold me, ecce me.

(d) Where, according to the Indo-Germanic case-system, the dative or ablative of the pronoun is required, the suffixes in Hebrew are joined to prepositions expressing those cases (לְ‎ sign of the dative, בְּ‎ in, מִן‎ from, § 102), e.g. לוֹ‎ to him (ei) and to himself (sibi), בּוֹ‎ in him, מִנִּי‎ (usually מִמֶּ֫נִּי‎) from me. 3. The suffixes of the 2nd person (־ְךָ‎, &c.) are all formed with a k-sound, not, like the separate pronouns of the 2nd person, with a t-sound.

So in all the Semitic languages, in Ethiopic even in the verbal form (qatalka, thou hast killed=Hebr. קָטַ֫לְתָּ‎).

4. The suffix of the verb (the accusative) and the suffix of the noun (the genitive) coincide in most forms, but some differ, e.g. ־נִי‎ me, ־ִי‎ my.

Paradigm A at the end of the Grammar gives a table of all the forms of the separate pronoun and the suffixes; a fuller treatment of the verbal suffix and the mode of attaching it to the verb will be found in §58ff., of the noun-suffix in §91, of the prepositions with suffixes in §103, of adverbs with suffixes §100o.

  1. On apparent exceptions see §135d.
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