Ruah in Logos - Gender tagging

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Lankford Oxendine | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Apr 10 2014 8:56 PM

Can someone explain why the new Logos Hebrew morphology has removed the gender tagging for certain nouns such as "ruah"?  AFAT has ruah tagged as feminine.

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Apr 10 2014 9:24 PM

Lankford, do you remember this thread from a couple of months back: http://community.logos.com/forums/t/80670.aspx 

I don't remember what was the uptake (though historically there's always been an issue especially on the syriac side).


Posts 240
Lankford Oxendine | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Apr 10 2014 10:22 PM

Thanks for the link. I'm trying to understand the reasoning behind it all. For instance, what would I say if certain individuals claim that Logos is using theological bias to remove the feminine tagging for the Holy Spirit ?

Posts 433
Vincent Setterholm | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Apr 10 2014 10:46 PM

Take a look at Exodus 10:19. Here ruah appears with a masculine adjective modifying it and a masculine verb (lifted) that ruah is the grammatical subject of. So what we have is a word that can be either masculine or feminine, and you can't tell by the form of the word which one it is - the form is unmarked for gender. It's only at the higher level of phrase or clause that we arrive at a 'gender' for the word.

There are different approaches to handling things like this. One option is to take a 'vote' and always mark ruah as feminine, since it is paired with feminine adjectives and verbs more often than not (Westminster marks 15 'masculine' instances of ruah compared to 363 feminine instances). Another approach is to read from the larger phrase and clause context and tag down at the word level based on these higher-level clues (which is what Westminster did) - this goes beyond morphology proper, and some modern linguists might consider this less than ideal, but it is still a useful/interesting approach. The third option is to recognize that there is nothing at the word level that tells you how to tag this, so this word is actually unmarked for gender, so you leave the gender tag off.

The Logos Hebrew Morphology is still a work in progress - we're adding more features to it. At some point we may go back and take another approach to gender tagging. But rest assured, I have no dog in the hunt re: the gender of the Holy Spirit.

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RIP
Milford Charles Murray | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Apr 11 2014 6:24 AM

Peace, Vincent!           *smile*

                         Thank you very much for your post!               Very enlightening!     Very helpful!  

                                                   Very appreciated!

Philippians 4:  4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand..........

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Apr 11 2014 6:47 AM

Lankford Oxendine:

...what would I say if certain individuals claim that Logos is using theological bias to remove the feminine tagging for the Holy Spirit ?

Hmmm...maybe that it's wrong to cast judgment without evidence, maybe?

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Apr 11 2014 7:03 AM

Oh David. Let's not question the holy writings yet again.  Spirit's been grammatically feminine for quite some time and thus the early Christians were busily trying to get it switched over.  Eastern Christiandom was much smarter than the 'Caesarian Christians' (as the east called them). They simply re-wrote the text where necessary.

But it's interesting the LXX/greek took a who-knows attitude (coincidentally matching the greek).


Posts 240
Lankford Oxendine | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Apr 11 2014 8:12 AM

Thanks Vincent for that very informative reply!  I have a follow up question for the Hebrew scholar.  I always thought that Hebrew nouns were inflected to indicate gender.  It seems as if that is not the case.  Are some nouns inflected for gender and others not?  No nouns?  Just proper nouns?  What about adjectives? (The adjective in the Exodus 10:19 example doesn't indicate gender in LHM) 

Posts 433
Vincent Setterholm | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Apr 11 2014 12:40 PM

While none of our databases push it to this extreme, some linguists might go so far as to say that the two genders in Hebrew should be 'feminine' and 'unmarked-for-gender'. Certainly taking this approach makes all the apparent discrepancies in gender agreement disappear. And it's helpful to remember that the purpose of marking gender is primarily to increase the cohesion of the text, rather than to identify the sex of nouns. Hebrew has more flexible word order than English, so having words agree on 'gender' (and number) helps the text hang together by more clearly marking which words go together.

If gender can sometimes only be determined at the phrase, clause or sentence level (or even discourse level), you have the same problem with adjectives as nouns. In our Exodus example, the adjective in question has an explicit feminine form available, which you'd expect to be consistently tagged as feminine. But the 'masculine/unmarked-for-gender' form might occur paired with nouns of either gender. So if you're withholding judgment on whether ruah is masculine or feminine, you have to withhold judgment on the adjective, too. Again, we could look at the verbs in the next clauses, see that they are masculine and decide 'that settles it' and just tag the noun and adjective masculine in this particular context, but it should be obvious that this decision is not word-level. (This does raise interpretive questions, which I risk displaying my own ignorance by outlining: could those verbs be masculine because they are agreeing with YHWH? I.e. is it the wind that is lifting the locusts and blowing them to the sea, or is it YHWH, by means of the wind, lifting the locusts and blowing them to the sea? If the verbs had been feminine, it would have been very clear which way to read this (the wind as subject), and it might have even been clearer if the adjective describing the wind had been feminine (since it would not be introducing some ambiguity about the gender of ruah, then we'd perhaps be more inclined to read YHWH as the implicit subject of the masculine verbs). FWIW, I've checked about a dozen translations and they all clearly read the wind as the subject of the following verbs, and that's how our own participant referent database handles it. An avenue of further inquiry could be to examine the idea (probably wrong since every translation and commentary I've looked at disagrees with this, but I'm in full swing now): is it possible the 'masculine/unmarked' form of the adjective was used not as a scribal error or a slip back to the 'default' gender, but rather to explicitly make the adjective less bound to the noun? The difference being between 'YHWH turned the very strong west wind' (change of direction, as HALOT has it, even though a 'west wind' - which is how HALOT reads 'wind of the Sea', since 'sea' is used as a cardinal direction in reference to the Mediterranean - is already blowing in the right direction. Of course, some translators read this as 'sea wind' rather than 'west wind', where a change of direction makes sense, since the wind could be coming of the Sea of Reeds) vs. 'YHWH turned the west wind very strong' (a change of intensity). This was all off-the-cuff. The grammars have extended discussions about the circumstances where words don't agree on gender as expected, which may bring more light to bear on this particular verse.)

Back to nouns and gender: some nouns come in pairs (prophet vs. prophetess, stallion vs. mare - though if I dug around, I wouldn't be shocked to find an instance of 'stallion' that referred to a mare, so it might be the unmarked 'horse' vs. feminine 'mare'), while others only come in one form (even for living things, like 'bear' and 'camel'). When the text talks about 'milking camels' do you tag them as feminine because the participle that modifies them is feminine (a phrase level observation), or do you tag them as unmarked for gender, or apply a gender tag that indicates the word can be masculine or feminine depending on context? There isn't necessarily a right or wrong answer, though I think LHM has words where we could improve the consistency of the method applied. If I had to do a full review of the gender tagging before getting this out the door, you'd still be waiting for this, and we really needed a text we could start hanging all our in-house data projects on. It's not at the top of my list, some other features that are crying more loudly for revision, but at some point I would like to re-examine the gender tagging (either personally or delegating).

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Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Apr 11 2014 10:39 PM

@OP:

Vincent Setterholm:

There isn't necessarily a right or wrong answer, though I think LHM has words where we could improve the consistency of the method applied. If I had to do a full review of the gender tagging before getting this out the door, you'd still be waiting for this, and we really needed a text we could start hanging all our in-house data projects on. It's not at the top of my list, some other features that are crying more loudly for revision, but at some point I would like to re-examine the gender tagging (either personally or delegating).

There is no right or wrong answer.

HALOT s.v. רוּחַ:

רוּח is fem.; only seldom is it masc., as in Ex 1013.19 Nu 1131 Is 5716 Jr 412 Ezk 2726 Ps 5112 7839 Jb 415 82 203 418 Qoh 16 319; discussed by Albrecht ZAW 16 (1896) 42-44 and Michel Grundlegung 1:76: not able to find a reason for this shift in gender.



For most nouns, grammatical gender has no direct correlation with biological gender or perceived gender (i.e. more feminine, more masculine). And it pays to remember that what we call Biblical Hebrew stretched across thousands of years and across large swathes of people, and interacted with neighbouring languages. There's no "textbook" that governed, only convention.

A good approach would be to follow HALOT and have a tag like "predom. fem." = predominantly feminine.

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 12 2014 7:24 AM

Lee, I'm not disagreeing per se; only noting that historical Christiandom did indeed get tangled with grammatical vs biological (if indeed a spirit can be biological!) with the word 'spirit'.  So also 'wisdom'.  And the major participants weren't the ladies guarding their 'territory'.

I think modern pristine religionists forget that YHWH was described quite graphically without much left out. And so a normal person back then would 'do the math' for other divines personages as well.

This whole area gets 'stumbled into' today, but my neural nets actually do distinguish masculine vs feminine sections of the hebrew (but not the greek). And that's with me stripping out any gender attributing in the grammar, names, etc.   I don't think hebrew is as 'cold' as today's linguists would like to see it as.


Posts 2465
Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 12 2014 9:55 AM

Denise:
I don't think hebrew is as 'cold' as today's linguists would like to see it as.

No doubt, there are some links between grammatical and "real" gender, in some cases. But neither can one jump to hasty etymological conclusions!  Big Smile

Posts 240
Lankford Oxendine | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 12 2014 12:12 PM

Once again Vincent thanks for your thorough reply.  I definitely have a better understanding now. As I have been making my way through this I noticed that LHM has tagged all of the plurals of ruah as feminine.  Can you explain why you chose not to leave the plurals as unmarked?  Thanks!

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 12 2014 12:19 PM

Lankford ... excellent questions! We're learning too!


Posts 2465
Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 12 2014 12:27 PM

Probably an oversight, nothing more.

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