4.0311 Hypersatire (1/134)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 23 Jul 90 18:45:45 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0311. Monday, 23 Jul 1990.

Date: Sun, 22 Jul 90 20:30:12-020
From: onomata@bengus (nissan ephraim)
Subject: hypersatire

In this note, I wish to answer Alan Corre's interesting note. His
description of memorizing is beautiful.

> Most of us have our illusions, but Ephraim has his allusions. I wish
> him luck in being understood.

I dared to be that allusive, for the very reason I adopted
hypertextuality. It is like a game going on between the author at layer
N, the reader at layer N, and then the author's comment at layer N+1.
This way, Alan's remark:

> Zeembezoom I should prefer to connect
> with the Zamzumim of the Ammonites. The be is just "leshaper et
> haqeriah" to ease the passage betwen m and z (am I playing the game
> according to the rules?)

is just one legitimate, and sought-for (by the author), way to read the
text. (By the way, Zeembezoom meant to be obscure, for the purposes of
the passage.) On the other hand, the average secular youngster in
Israel would certainly not think about a Penthateuchal hapax like
"zamzummim", and would rather think of the modern verb "zimzem", that
is, "to buzz", whereas a Moselm Israeli would perhaps think of the
Zemzem Well in Mecca. As to the insertion of "b", I would expect it
from an Italian speaker: "Israele" (for "Israel") is often "Isdraele"
as pronounced in Italy. And the Biblical arch-hunter Nimrod had a "b"
inserted (not only in Italian); in Italian it became Nembrotte.
According to the reader's background, he or she would analyze neologisms

For the same reason (unless you read the explanatory note) you would not
expect "Shifregaz" to be a proper name for a horse, unless you know
about the Midrash (legendary exegesis) that states this was the name of
the horse mounted first by Ahasuerus and then by Mordecai (the Book of
Esther does not provide us with the name of the horse). An Israeli
would rather think of a gas company (a competitor of AmIsra-Gaz?
"shifra" could convey an agreeable sense; it is an existing term derived
from the same root of the verb Alan used above: "leshaper"). Instead,
an Italian confronted with the word "Shifregaz" would rather consider it
a dialectal-like form of "ci fregasse", a conjunctive mood form of a
vulgar verb: the meaning would be: "[that] he would cheat us", or, if
followed by the direct object, "[that] he would steal [the object] from
us". According to sectors of expected readership, one could try to
standardize expectations, but as an exact task, it would be hopeless.

My hypertextual note is a reply to the reader's expectations, but they
would most often differ. Indeed, one thing is analysis to cope with
unknown lexicon, and another one is knowing the conventions about an
existing term. Layer N proposes the reader to analyze, whereas layer
N+1 proposes the convention.

> On the model of qambaz, I would propose
> hashbez, which means "to absorb occupied territory quickly."

This is a 4-literal verb devised according to an idiomatic compound that
Alan is quoting by the very acto of neologizing, and that semantically,
composes "quickly" + "snatch". Here is another example: in the Haggadah
read on the evening of Passover, there is a Jewish Aramaic passage
(which in baghdad was repeated in translation, by alternating the Jewish
Aramaic text and the Judeo-Arabic translation three times), that
includes: "Ha-shata hakha" ("This year [we are] here": "Hassana nihna
hon" in Judeo-Arabic, but printed version are more literary.) Out of
this idiomatic expression, verb "shattakh" was formed, in the Baghdadi
Judeo-Arabic: it means to celebrate Passover evening rite.

> A few miscellaneous points. lehem huqqenu does not mean "our
> lawful bread" but rather the bread of our portion, the bread of our
> rizq, to use the Arabic expression. Needless to say, although Ephraim
> wrote this, he has no dibs on what it means, especially as it is
> allusive (Proverbs I think).

OK. My English translation was inaccurate. Actually, the idea of
portion (that in a sense, is a due portion: hence the connection with
law) is conveyed by "lehem huqqenu". I think I was thinking also of the
Judeo-Arabic sentence "yit`i:nu: haqqu:", that is, "he'll give him his
due [portion]". In yesterday's (July 21) Pentateuchal portion, Rashi's
comment states that Balaam got his due (he was killed): "we-lo
qippehuhu" -- "and they did not withhold his due" -- which incidentally
happens to be coincident with another sense of the verb that here is
negated: "qippehuhu" means also (in the same stratum of Hebrew) "they
did away with him". Thus, if, instead, "qippehuhu" would have held as
in the first sense, Balaam would NOT have been killed, as his "due" would
have been withheld, and therefore "we-lo qippehuhu" would have been true
as in the second sense: "they did not make away with him". This I
write to combine Alan's remarks of above, about ambiguity (as in
Zeembezoom), with the discussion about "huqqenu" and the due portion, or
the lot.

> And now a comment on shedra. I noted in the Israel Brodie festschrift
> that the segol is subphonemic. You never get a three-way a/i/e
> contrast in classical Hebrew. e occupies middle ground, sometimes
> representing the a phoneme, and sometimes the i, possibly because
> Hebrew was being heard through Aramaic ears (why should anyone ever
> have thought that the phonemic inventories of the two languages are
> identical or even similar?) In the Sephardic tradition many i-words
> are e-words, and why not? I-efshar (impossible) is e-efshar; midrash
> is medrash. (In the London Portuguese Jewish community the members of
> the congregational academy were called "medrasistas".)

OK. This is the very reason Masie accepted the form "shedra", and
Tscernichowsky did not modify this. However, whereas Masie as a data
gatherer was (at least emotionally) rather in a *descriptive* philology
mood, his dictionary had a *prescriptive* role: he was Ben-Yehudah
successor as the president of the Committee (later Academy) of the
Hebrew Language. That institution increasingly emphasized standard
forms, from the morphological viewpoint. This is why the term in its
form "shidra" prevailed. This narrowing of formation possibilities
(according of an ideal of "the smaller, the purer": you find it also
among Arabic institutional neologizers) I found worthy of ironizing

> Ephraim at this point must be the doruran who takes the prize for a
> contribution directed to an in-group, in this instance to students of
> classical Hebrew. The Sanskritists will doubtless take a nirvanistic
> revenge, but a commentary in nothing more outlandish than late Latin
> will be appreciated.

OK. I accept the prize. I enjoy contributions to Humanist that are not
in my own field, as they allow me to get a taste of things I am not
doing. Of course, if I am not interest, I just avoid going on reading.
However, my specifical contribution was meant to address several topics
combined in "Midde' Muddi'":

1) hypertext;
2) satire (as a genre, and as content);
3) wild neologizing (in literature, you find it,
e.g., in Carlo Emilio Gadda,
who wrote in an Italian-based
linguistic pastiche);
4) Hebrew.

In a sense, four different in-groups are addressed, and you
prized me just for point four, dear Alan...

Ephraim Nissan onomata@bengus.bitnet