Wayyiqtol - comparative Semitic, morphology, phonology, and red herrings
ButhFam at compuserve.com
Mon Jul 31 14:57:16 EDT 2000
Message text written by Rolf Furuli
>>(from Randall Buth)
>>rolf, you already know enough to tear the above apart if you want to.
>>Just how good a fit do you really think the above 'conspiracy theory' is?
>>And it's close to a millenium out of sync.
>Perhaps you overrate my knowledge. I am not aware of any data which show
>that the Masoretes could not have invented a pragmatic differentiation
>between YIQTOLs with proclitic waw.
I said 'if you want to'. You already have Henry's data. You already know
that stress cannot predict semantic/pragmatic classes since most have the
same stress and thus your theory does not motivate the introduction of
minor stress sub-categories.
You already know that JewishAramaic has always (through recorded history)
interpreted vayyiqtol TAM as qatal TAM and different from yiqtol, but
yiqtol TAM as the same as veqatal TAM. Likewise Greek, yet you claim
'agnosticism' on the grounds that correlatons are not absolute and precise.
[PS: if you carefully read between the lines you might find that my
"definite" TAM versus "indefinite" TAM (Buth 1992) is already pragmatically
defined and a kind of 'supra-aspectual' theory, of the type van der Merwe
would give a theoretical possibility to, (though pedigogically
unnecessary). vdMerwe, BHReference Grammar, p. 144, fn 18, 20.]
>What I do know is that there is no orthographic difference between
>WAYYIQTOLs and WEYIQTOLs in unpointed texts.
Irrelevant to the question. Like I said, a graphic system is not the same
as the morphology itself. With the same 'logic' one could "scientifically
argue" that 1st temple Hebrew was voweless. You can't follow Henry's data
and then plead synchronic naivete.
In terms of question framing you must also consider that the MT is the
first point where we can actually "see" what is going on phonetically. The
MT folk had different syntactic verbal categories and marked them. We
cannot go back to an earlier, underdifferentiated writing system and assume
that it cannot be the same or that it was different from the MT. The burden
of proof works the other way. One must prove the earlier system different,
not assume it. See questions below.
>The first time the five "groups" YIQTOL, WAYYIQTOL,WEYIQTOL, QATAL, and
>WEQATAL are seen in writing, is in the Masoretic text. So it is legitimate
>to ask: On which basis did the Masoretes do their pointing? I am in the
>process of research, and appreciate all material that can throw light on
>Henry has done an excellent research from the point of view of diachronic
>phonology, and he used a model based on generative grammar. His
>are plausible, and I do not just reject them. However, he builds on
>assumptions, which can be doubted (as I wrote to him). So my task is to
>find out whether there are other ways to interpret the data.
>ask: Did the Masoretes think in terms of four or five verbal conjugations,
>or can their pointing be explained on the basis of pragmatics?
That is ultimately the same thing. Morphologization of semantic/pragmatic
categories had obviously already occurred for the Massoretes. [To be
honest, it would appear that you are throwing words and categories at
people as a smokescreen if you propose that marking pragmatic categories in
the phonology is somehow not syntactic. If one confuses this point it
points to their not understanding what emic units are.] See more below.
>>(ps: 'grammars'/'competency' inside people produce speech/texts [e.g.,
>>whether in an oral medium or written medium] and writing up a
>>'grammar' about that (living) 'grammar' is a secondary phenomenon.
>> It would be theorectically difficult to maintain that 'four
>>conjugations' were not part of the 'MT grammar' according to your
>>i.e. according to the theory you outline above, it would be more correct
>>say that the MT created the four conjugations not the later grammarians.
>>Those later grammar writers are not creating something if the four
>>categories were already part of the text.)
>We may speak of four groups of the article 1) the group with patah and
>gemination, 2) the group with patah and virtual doubling, and 3) the group
>with segol an no gemination, and 4) the group with qamets and no
>gemination. I speak of "group" because of different pointing. However,
>there is no *semantic* difference between the "groups", because we can
>explain the differences on the basis of the phonological rules the
Rolf, this is a good example of why I feel you are not trying to
understand, but are trying to avoid understanding. The article has a
(NON-PRAGMATIC, NON-SEMANTIC), phonetic, subphonemic interpretation (in
older phonological theories these were morphophonemes, i.e. units of etic
fluctuation of phonemes) . Whereas the above verb categories are obviously
"emic", even by your own recognition and admission. The categories had been
emic as far back as we have data, not to mention synchronic emic
patterning. So why would someone compare an 'emic' item with an 'etic' one
and claim 'scientific' method?
>We have not only four groups of finite verbs, but five (Alviero
>Niccacci,takes for instance WEYIQTOL as an independent group which is
>different from YIQTOL).
I differentiate veyiqtol from veX+yiqtol as word order, since I can fully
handle veyiqtol and yiqtol without an additional verb category. I don't
add one. But if someone wants to 'open and extra file' for this
subcategory, fine. It won't disturb the system. (E.g, if someone wants to
write a grammar for plural nouns and a separate one for singulars, those
subsets won't upset the overall system. It's the old 'lumper' versus
'splitter' affair, but not a substantial difference. And useful
observations always turn up in the restricted sets.)
For the record, I have 5 categories of 3 TAMS: 1 qatal 2 vayyiqtol (TAM A);
3 yiqtol 4veqatal (TAM B); and qotel (TAM C). (Nicacci's verb system is
encumbered by equating X+Verb with nominal clauses, which
scrambles/compomises both the flexibility of his system as well as its
semantics. Otherwise it's in the right direction.)
>Just as in the case with the article, I see the
>groups, but it is good science to ask: Does a difference in pointing mean
>difference in semantic meaning? Or can the differences in the
>prefix-conjugation group and those in the suffix-conjugation group be
>explained on the basis of pragmatics?
It is also good science, in fact the goal, to differentiate "phonetic" from
"phonemic", "etic" from "emic". The article's pointings do not change
meaning or syntactic category, therefore they are 'phonetic', The verb's
pointings refer/mark different 'pragmatic' functions, as you admit,
therefore they are not phonetic variants but communicating MEANINGFUL
Back to the beginning--you surely should already know this, but you're
showing a remarkable ability to have not internalized this basical
>On which basis do you conclude that there are four semantic groups (four
>different conjugations)? If your basis is function, in which sense do the
>three prefix-groups and the two suffix-groups differ in function?
>I ask these rather banal questions because so many people just take for
>granted that there are four different conjugations without making a study
>of the basis of the view.
You have already admitted four different "pragmatic" categories.
I'm happy with that.
The listeners/readers were getting different communicative information and
processing signals with veyiqtol and vayyiqtol. Amen.
The difference between semantic category and pragmatic category in many
areas is only a matter of definition/'wiring' within various linguistic
theories. Now such distinctions are important and helpful when done
correctly, to be sure, but irrelevant to the point of establishing the
existence of 4(+) distinct verb categories in BH syntax.
As for writing everything out explicitly: That is for people writing
dissertations, monographs and books, not emails. There are always too many
apparent 'rabbit holes', 'red herrings', etc., that need to be pedantically
plugged for those unwilling to follow the 'highly probable paths'. Those
holes are fillable, one by one, but distract from the main points. Your
"equivalency" or article/verb vocalization is an examle of such a
So back to the MT: there are four "pragmatic" verbal categories, maybe 5 or
six or more, depending on definitions and systems.
Your QUESTIONS should be framed as follows, starting from that common
do we have evidence to suppose that the MT verb system is an innovation, a
new language development?
Or, is there evidence that this reflects the continuation of a more ancient
And how far back can that system be posited?
I think that you are already capable of getting back to the 1st temple with
your answers, but if not, you are close to being able to. I am happy with
Moabite, Arad and Metsad Hashavyahu, et al, as confirming our 1st temple
synchronic and complementary systems.
Very sorry for the length.
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