WAW the conjunction

Alviero Niccacci sbfnet at netvision.net.il
Mon Jan 10 03:34:46 EST 2000


Dear Rolf Furuli,

	Thank you for your comment. I will try to answer your 
questions as briefly as possible but I am afraid I will not succeed.

On  08/01/00 (Re: WAW  the conjunction) Rolf Furuli wrote:


>Dear Alviero,

	< ... >

>The most interesting thing with your post, is that you stated your view that
>WEYIQTOL  is a conjugation of its own in addition to the four which are
>usually counted. I agree that WEYIQTOL in many cases is modal, but because
>modality is a quite elusive property, I am afraid we will have much
>circularity once we have decided that WEYIQTOL *is* modal.There are few if
>any objective means to pinpoint modality.

	It is not a question of deciding one thing or the other, it 
is a question of deducting from a correct checking of good examples. 
If this is circularity, I do not know what is deductive analysis.
	< ... >

>(1) I understand you to say that *all* instances of QATAL with prefixed WAW
>belong to the same conjugation, so the identification mark is not function
>but form. Is that correct?

	Both form and function are the identification mark. One finds 
a form, one looks for its function. On the basis of good examples one 
draws an hypothesis about its function. The hypothesis is then tested 
by further reading.

>(2) If that is correct and all WAWs prefixed to "YIQTOLs" (WAYYIQTOL  and
>WEYIQTOL) are part of verb morphology, we are in the strange situation that
>while cognate languages such as Arabic, Aramaic, and Ge'ez flourish with
>the WE/WA/FA-conjunctions, Hebrew has *no* conjunctions between verbs,
>except between imperatives.

	Also with x-qatal and x-yiqtol, besides the nonverbal 
sentence, we clearly find the conjunction, which may or may not be 
present. Other Northwest Semitic languages have *inverted* 
verbforms--also Old Aramaic has--and they behave the same way. 
Besides, Semitic analogies as well as general-linguistic principles 
may be important, but above all each language needs to be analyzed on 
its own merit.

>(3) Or perhaps the WAWs are *both* a part of verb morphology and a
>conjunction at the same time, however unique that may be among the
>languages of the world?

	See previous answer.

>(4) If WAW is both a conjunction and part of the verb morphology, what
>would a prefix-form (QATAL) look like if it was just prefixed by the
>conjunction WAW? We know from Aramaic that such creatures do exist.

	In Aramaic but not in BH. When the reference time is the 
past, the continuation form in BH is wayyiqtol, not waw+qatal. This 
is shown by reading good texts.


>(5) I suppose you will answer that there would be no visible difference,
>and then I will ask: How do we know that *no* examples of WEQATAL is not
>the prefix-form (QATAL) with a prefixed conjunction? You may appeal to
>discourse functions and say that we use to find QATAL in this and that
>function and WEQATAL  in this and that. Generally I do not dispute your
>analyses of mainline and other groups and subgroups, but the picture we see
>is conventional Hebrew from Bible times, and is there any property with
>QATAL that would prevent it from filling the position of indicative future
>together with WAW and as habit or description in narrative? There ought to
>be something apart from just saying that I see this conjugation in this
>function and that conjugation in that function, that differentiates between
>QATAL  and WEQATAL, provided they are two different conjugations.

	Sorry, I do not quite understand your argument. I only tried 
to describe facts. I never appealed to discourse functions, did I? I 
do not follow the *discourse analysis* and the four text types of the 
SIL circles although I, too, take the text as the basis of the 
analysis.

>(6) And further, what is the connective clue between indicative future and
>(past) habit and description in narrative? For me they seem to be very
>different, though constituting one conjugation. Do we find a parallel in
>other languages? And what about my list of properties  WEQATAL paralelling
>properties of QATAL, though with different frequency? I have also problems
>with the designation habitual applied to WEQATAL.

	I do not know whether or not the same phenomenon is attested 
in other languages. I suppose that it is a consequence of the paucity 
of the verbforms in BH. But, again, I tried to describe facts. I wait 
for your list of weqatal paralleling qatal. Concerning the case of 
Josh 6, see here below.

>Take some verses from Joshua 6 as an example. In v 8 we find one occurrence of
>the weqatal TQ( with past meaning (we could also add v 13 where both the
>ortography and the pointing show the form is WEQATAL). The priests blew in
>the trumpets, and this fits the definition of being habitual. But what
>about the  QATAL  of the same verb with past meaning in v 16? (another
>example of the QATAL of the verb with past meaning is 1 Sam 13:3 /note the
>nomen with prefixed WAW before it/). Is not QATAL habitual as well? What
>signals habituality is primarily the Aktionsart and the context ...

	According to the usual functions of weqatal, `ABeRU WeTAQe`U 
should be translated as "(The priests) went forward WHILE THEY WERE 
BLOWING the trumpets." Qatal and weqatal do not stand on the same 
foot although they appear coordinated. As I repeatedly tried to show, 
in historical narrative weqatal conveys background information, just 
as x-qatal, the difference being that weqatal expresses habitualness 
while qatal uniqueness.
	Similarly in Josh 6:13: WeTAQeU conveys background 
information to the preceding nonverbal sentence, which is on its turn 
circumstantial to the preceding wayyiqtol in v. 12: WAYYI&'U "they 
took up the ark ... while the seven priests ... went on (WHILE THEY 
WERE) BLOWING the trumpets."
	It is not the blowing itself, because it is normally a 
prolongued action, that requires the habitual weqatal. The 
author/writer is free to present a prolongued action as a point. In 
other words, as I already said, the "real course of events" as such 
remains outside the verbforms and outside the text. Therefore I see 
no problem in the fact that the bolowing of the trumpets is conveyed 
with "unique" qatal in Josh 6:16. There are many such examples if we 
pay attention to this fact.

>... and I wonder if you can give *one* example where we on the basis 
>of WEQATAL
>*alone* can show that a verb is habitual. One last point to Joshua 6:8. It
>seems to me that (BRW WTQ(W  simply are two QATALs connected with a
>conjunction, and the action of both occur simultaneously, "the seven
>priests ...passed on and blew".
>
>I am not trying to make a reductio-ad-absurdum-argument, I am just trying
>to find out if it is possible to make independent tests of your viewpoints
>regarding QATAL and WEQATAL.

We get a good example of habitual weqatal if we compare Exod 18:21-22 
(Jethro's instructions to elect judges to help Moses) with 18:25-26 
(execution of the instructions). The main point is that the work of 
the judges is indicated with weqatal (and its background counterpart 
x-yiqtol) both in the instructions (in direct speech) and in the 
execution (in historical narrative)--compare 18:22 with 18:26. A 
similar case is 1Sam 16:16 (instruction with weqtal) and 16:23 
(execution with weqatal). Other examples of habitual weqatal are Exod 
34:34-35; 40:31-32; 1Sam 7:16; 2Chron 25:14; see my _Syntax_ #46.
	We should ask ourselves why is the same verbform weqatal 
found both in the instruction and in the narrative? In other cases 
the execution of the instructions is narrated with mainline wayyiqtol 
and offline x-qatal (corresponding to weqatal and x-yiqtol, 
respectively, in direct speech). Good examples are seen if one 
compares the parallel sections in Exod 25-30 and 35-40; see e.g. 26:1 
and 36:8. You may wish to consult my _Syntax_ ##58-59.
	As a last point, cases as Exod 18:21-22 // 18:25-26 and 1Sam 
16:16 // 16:23 do prove that weqatal actually has two functions--it 
is a future tense in direct speech, it indicates habitualness in 
historical narrative.

Peace and all good.
Alviero Niccacci



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