Live blog from the SBL session on Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew:
"Transitivity and the Biblical Hebrew Niphal and Hitpael" by Richard Benton, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Richard Benton attempts to offer insight on distinctions between Niphal and Hitpael in Biblical Hebrew. Transitivity is a salient category.
Transitivity is a relative quality - note examples between a verb like "know" vs "crush." There's a cline reflecting the level of active participation of the subject in the verbal action. The "middle" voice is less transitive than a reflexive.
Rich uses his criteria for relative transitivity to analyze the N and HtD stems in Biblical Hebrew, providing a dozen examples mainly of verbs "to turn" (HPK) and "to cover" (KSH).
N refers to an achieved state where the recipient of the action is totally affected. HtD relates to the action (process) of bringing about the state. N consistently relates to higher transitivity than the HtD.
Rich uses a highly developed linguistic categorization based on work on transitivity by Hopper and Thompson (1980), Bakker (1994), and Kemmer (1993).
N gravitates toward 2 participant events - higher transitivity, but the HtD tends toward 1 participant events - lower transitivity. Transitivity represents a key distinction on both the major distribution level and the minor functional level between these two stems.