Wayyiqtol - comparative Semitic, morphology, phonology
churchh at usa.net
Mon Jul 17 11:24:56 EDT 2000
>>> From: Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no>
>>> I therefore assume that a difference in morphology means a
>>> difference in meaning,
>> From: <ButhFam at compuserve.com>
>> No- on the contrary, Rolf deletes the vavhahippux morphological
>> category from the language on the basis of his desire to join
>> simple prefix verbs with vavhahipux (short) prefix verbs.
> From: Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no>
> I do not understand the negation in the clause above. To what does
> it refer?
Presumably to the various morphological/phonological evidence that the
-YIQTOL in WAYYIQTOL is not necessarily the "same" YIQTOL seen in the
plain YIQTOL conjugation, as well as to the fact that _waC-_ with
assimilating consonant is not morphologically identical to an ordinary
conjunction without such an assimilating consonant.
>> There are two broad classes of prefix verbs in this. vayYAqom is
>> not the same as yaQUM or ve+yaQUM. Two morphologies. Two broad
>> semantic/pragmatic categories.
> Based on morphology I differentiate between prefix forms in the
> following way:
> Accadian: IPRUS - IPARRAS
> Ge'ez: YENGER - YENAGGER
> Ugaritic: YAQTUL - YAQTULU
> short form viewed as preterit and jussive. Thus the basic difference
> between the short and the long forms in these languages is one of
> modality, the short forms are modal, the long ones are indicative.
What's the point of dragging in forms such as IPARRAS and YENAGGER
that have no real direct relevant comparability with Hebrew
morphological forms? (And in fact, it's not entirely clear that
Ugaritic YAQTULU is all that comparable to Hebrew plain YIQTOL in
There were no true proto-Semitic categories of "long" vs. "short"
(with accompanying meanings) that survived as an opposition into
various daughter Semitic languages, including Hebrew. Rather, there
were a variety of early Semitic morphological formations (some
happening to be longer than others), each of which had its own
particular meaning, or meanings. Some of these forms survived with
phonological/morphological modifications into some daughter languages,
with modified meanings -- but these attested meanings cannot be
explained by relying on any kind of general abstract Semitic "long"
vs. "short" meaning distinction (which simply does not exist as a
generalized abstraction, away from the details of specific concrete
forms in each individual language).
So when reconstructing the semantic history of Hebrew forms, the basic
relevant data is the attested meaning, in other languages, of forms
which are cognate with the Hebrew forms in question. When we examine
various conjugations in various languages with a shape somewhat like
early Semitic *YAQTUL we discover various general "preterite" and
"jussive" meanings in various languages -- though we don't find
exactly the same form being used with both jussive and preterite
meanings in the same language; instead some morphological distinction
is made if both are present in the same language (so the Akkadian past
IPRUS vs. "optative" LIPRUS, the Hebrew addition of waC- to the
preterite, the Arabic addition of a prefixed _lam_ particle to the
preterite, etc. -- Amarna Canaanite as reconstructed by Rainey has
the appearance of being a partial exception, but this may be due to
the fragmentary nature of the evidence). So it seems fairly clear
that there were two different "short" conjugations with two different
general meanings in common early Semitic or proto-Semitic (regardless
of whether or not these two might have a common ancestor in the the
earliest pre-Proto-Semitic); these differences between "jussive" and
"preterite" semantics are what led Hetzron to propose his hypothesis
that jussive *YAQTUL was originally ultimate-stressed and and
preterite *YAQTUL originally penult-stressed. I have to reject
Hetzron's reconstructed phonemic stress-position distinction on
phonological grounds, but it certainly looks as if there were distinct
meanings involved here.
So I find lumping together jussive and preterite meanings as "modal"
to be an unhelpful oversimplification, and I find no obstacle to
positing a reconstruction in which early Semitic "preterite" *YAQTUL
is the diachronic ancestor of Hebrew WAYYIQTOL (whatever the
subtleties of synchronic semantic analyses may be, there's no denying
that predominant or characteristic function of the WAYYIQTOL in Hebrew
is past narrative) -- and this reconstruction is greatly strengthened
by the strictly phonological evidence assembled in chapter 4 of my
dissertation which shows that WAYYIQTOL descends from consonant-final
*YAQTUL, while plain YIQTOL descends from a vowel-final form,
> This means that I see two groups of prefix forms. (1) THE INDICATIVE
> GROUP: the long forms of YIQTOL, WAYYIQTOL (I think of those which
> *could* have been apocopated but are not), and WEYIQTOL (which are
> not apocopated). (2) THE MODAL GROUP: the short forms of YIQTOL,
> WAYYIQTOL, and WEYIQTOL.
"Long" and "Short" as you're using them here have absolutely nothing
whatever to do with "long" and "short" in the early and reconstructed
Semitic sense (e.g. YAQTUL vs. YAQTULU; or YAQTULUU vs. YAQTULUUNA).
Rather, WAYYIQTOL and jussive YIQTOL historically come from early
Semitic "short" forms, while Hebrew plain YIQTOL comes from early
Semitic long forms. The synchronic complexities of Hebrew forms
derived from lamedh-he roots are interesting in their own right, but
they are not diagnostic for historical reconstruction (since lamedh-he
truncation has developed away from its original historical pattern).
Historically, all apocopated lamedh-he forms and all WAYYIQTOLs are
"short" in the Semitic sense, while no plain (non-jussive) YIQTOLs
are "short" in the Semitic sense.
> My task is to explain how verbs that often has past reference and
> forms that are modal can exist in the same group. In other words, in
> which sense can it be said that WAYYIQTOLs are modal.
I think the fact that there was both an early Semitic "jussive"
*YAQTUL and an early Semitic "preterite" *YAQTUL (which don't take on
exactly the same morphological forms in any attested Semitic language,
remember) is entirely unrelated to the fact that the -YIQTOL in Hebrew
WAYYIQTOL (which descends from early Semitic "short" *YAQTUL) has
happened to come to resemble Hebrew plain YIQTOL (which descends from
early Semitic "long" *YAQTULU), at least in Hebrew strong verbs.
I don't think there's much to be gained by trying to come up with a
common explanation for both of these disparate and unconnected facts.
Nor is there much profit in positing a general persistent common
Semitic "long" vs. "short" semantic distinction (this simply does not
exist as a general principle that can be abstracted away from the
details of specific concrete forms in each individual language, as
I've said), and then applying such a "short" vs. "long" classification
to Hebrew forms in an ad-hoc way which is entirely different from the
way the distinction was defined for other Semitic languages. Nor does
denying the historical connection between early Semitic "preterite"
short *YAQTUL and Hebrew WAYYIQTOL -- which is plausible on general
semantic/pragmatic/whatever grounds, and is nailed down pretty
precisely by strictly phonological evidence -- necessarily help much
in explaining things.
I'm not a semanticist, so I can't really evaluate your strictly
synchronic and Hebrew-internal non-phonological evidence for the
general unity of all so-called "YIQTOL" forms (including WAYYIQTOL) --
but it seems to me that if you ignore the highly-specific and
phonologically-established fact that Hebrew WAYYIQTOL descends from
earlier Semitic "preterite" *YAQTUL, then your cross-Semitic
comparisons will not turn out to be very fruitful.
Mr. Buth pointed out some of this before:
>>>>>> From: yochanan bitan-buth <ButhFam at compuserve.com>
>>>>>> There is even a modern confirmation because written Arabic
>>>>>> still uses the "lam yaktub" form for the simple negative past.
>>>>>> They don't know 'why?' the jussive form is used with this
>>>>>> negative for a past meaning. It just is. They learn it, use
>>>>>> it, internalize it and 'map it to referential situations', but
>>>>>> they don't get to know its history unless they study
>>>>>> comparative Semitics. (NB: the Hebrew vayyiqtol is also noted
>>>>>> for generally following the jussive prefix form rather than the
>>>>>> 'regular' prefix form. Quite a surprising "accident".)
>>>>>> The above give historical reasons besides that 'fact' of the
>>>>>> Massoretic vocalization. The MT, by the way, is
>>>>>> 'pre-grammatical' and preserves many forms that went against
>>>>>> their common sense or against medieval grammarians yet are
>>>>>> shown to be true by comparative Semitics [e.g. qal passives,
>>>>>> hishtaf`al binyan, Hifta`al binyan]. The MT passes on a
>>>>>> tradition and does not invent one.
>>>>> Subject: RE: vayyiqtol, assumption-rolf
>>>>> From: Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no>
>>>>> I do not think that modern Arabic can throw any light upon the
>>>>> verbal system of Classical Hebrew. And I do not trust a system
>>>>> that never has tried to isolate the meaning of the fundamental
>>>>> units of Hebrew verbs, but build on assumptions based on the
>>>>> function of verb forms. I accept the principle of James Barr
>>>>> when he argued against the etymological fallacy, that what
>>>>> counts, is the synchronic meaning of words and morphosyntactic
But here etymology (established by means of synchronic phonology) can
throw some light on the question of what is and is not a fundamental
unit of Hebrew verb forms -- which is exactly what is in dispute here
(i.e. the highly problematic apparent superficial surface unity of all
>>>>> In my view, the use of the prefix-form with LAM in Modern and
>>>>> Classical Arabic is a remnant of the time-indifferent meaning of
>>>>> the prefix-form.
>>>> Subject: Re: lam yaktub-rolf
>>>> From: yochanan bitan-buth <ButhFam at compuserve.com>
>>>> lam yaktub cannot be used for the future. It is not time
>>>> indifferent but takes the same semantic parameters as "kataba".
>>>> Ask an Arab whether 'lam yaktub', all by itself, doesn't mean "he
>>>> did not write" and aspectually/temporally similar to kataba?
Henry Churchyard churchh at usa.net http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/
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