[b-hebrew] Hebrew grammar, (was Zech 6:8)
farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Tue Nov 29 22:05:35 EST 2005
A few more comments, and questions, below.
> Grammaticalization processes are common in all languages, and I myself use
> the example with the participle in Rabbinic Hebrew to illustrate it. The
> very high percentage
> of WAYYIQTOLs with past reference (93,1 % of 15,536 verbs according to my
> analysis) could suggest such a grammaticalization process. However, there
> are several strong reasons to reject this. It is believed that scribes
> choosing the WAYYIQTOL form would generally choose the short form of the
> verb. But the fact is that 73 % of all WAYYIQTOLs are long. If quantity
> were the criterion, we had to conclude that the long form was generally
> used. But the fact is that most of the mentioned 73 % simply cannot be
> short, so they tell us nothing about which form is choosen; quality is a
> better criterion than quantity.
OK, we'll have to differ in our interpretation of the evidence (at least
until I can read your entire argument in your dissertation with the
possibility that I may be convinced of it). I focus on the tendency for
where apocopation CAN occur, it often does with wayyiqtol, unlike
(we)yiqtol; whereas you downplay this tendency in preference for
noticing an aspectual similarity, albeit modified.
> I have already argued that narrative verbs *must* have past reference, so
> again, the high
> percentage is not necessarily the right basis for a conclusion.
> Grammaticalization is a unidirectional process, and if such a process has
> occurred in connection with WAYYIQTOL, we would expect to find diachronic
> evidence of more and more specialization in the direction of past
> but that is not the case. Moreover, in many cases it is possible to show
> that WAYYIQTOL has imperfective characteristics, and in other instances it
> can be demonstrated that YIQTOL and WAYYIQTOL are semantically
> similar. On
> this basis we can view all prefix forms as one group. And the 13,539
> WAYYIQTOLs, 1,027 YIQTOLs, and 50 WEYIQTOLs with past reference constitute
> only 49.8 % of all prefix forms.
I agree that grammaticalisation is a unidirectional process, even though
this is often challenged in the linguistic literature. I wonder if your
figures would be different if you removed poetry, but still keep direct
speech. You may not agree with me that the alternation between verbal
forms in Hebrew poetry is simply often poetic rather than to
semantically differentiate actions, but I would be interested in the
different analysis. Personally, I cannot accept these statistics unless
it is presented in this way because of my opinion regarding Hebrew poetry.
If one does allow for the inclusion of tense (even if incorporated with
an aspectual understanding) into the Hebrew verbal system at the same
time as viewing wayyiqtol and (we)yiqtol as semantically distinct, then
it is not surprising that the combining of wayyiqtol with (we)yiqtol as
you have done produces a result where this combined prefix category
produces a result of 49.8% of forms having "past reference". That is, to
my way of thinking it is not surprising that combining a past tense form
with a present-future tense form into one statistical category will
produce mixed results whereby only 49.8% of forms are used for past
> > OK, this is where I really have trouble comprehending, esp. option 3).
> > How might you understand Ruth 1:3, for example - wayyamot - in the light
> > of your theory? Option 1) doesn't really work - "he began to die".
> > Option 2 doesn't really work - "continued to die". And option 3 doesn't
> > really work as the verb doesn't express the end of a predication but the
> > whole perfective event of the death.
> Persons with Indo-European minds often have problems in connection with
> resultative and factitive situations in Hebrew (situations where the agent
> leads the patient through the end of an action and into a resultant state,
> or directly into such a state) , because this concept is little used in
> English and other modern languages.. A good example is the Hebrew BRK
> versus the English verb "bless". Of this Hebrew verb, 71,2 % of the
> occurrences are Piel, which often is resultative/factitive, and the other
> occurrences conforms with this. I would argue that in Hebrew thought the
> stress is on the condition of approval, grace, holiness and not on the
> Resultative and factitive situations can be expressed by diathesis (the
> stems, particularly the Piel stem) or by the imperfective aspect. I have
> systematically studied this in
> differnt Semitic languages, and I am in line with the excellent exposition
> of Piel by Waltke/O´Connor. Joshua 7:6 NIV says, "Joshua...
> fell facedown before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till
> evening.". In
> Hebrew there is just one verb, but in English there are two. The reason is
> that NPL is viewed as a punctiliar verb, and we cannot fathom a punctiliar
> event lasting until the evening. Lexicons try to solve the problem by
> saying that NPL both means "to fall" and "to lie prostrate," but
> evidence is
> lacking. I have analyzed all the occurrences of this verb and there is
> absolute no evidence for a stative lexical meaning. What the authors
> fail to
> see is that the notion "to lie prostrate for a time" is not caused by
> lexicon but
> by grammar, namely, by the imperfective verb (again, semantics versus
> So I would argue that the WAYYIQTOL in this verse is resultative. The
> ended when the earth was
> reached (note the he locale), and the resultant state continued until the
> There are many similar events where we need two verbs in English.
> I would argue in a similar way in connection with Ruth 1:3. I once
> translated the Ethiopic Enoch into Norwegian, and in connection with that I
> made a thorough study of the Hebrew and Ge´ez parallels NP$-NAFS,
> RWX-MANFAS, $)WL-SIOL, and GY) HNM (GEHENNA)-TAHTIT. The conclusion was
> that the views of the writers of Enoch and the Tanakh are diametrically
> opposite: the Enoch writers believing in an intrinsic human immortality and
> conscious life after death, while the writer of the Tanakh viewed death as
> no life
> in any form (the same state as an animal, Eccl 3:19)..
> However, if we consider the importance for a Hebrew of old to be buried in
> particular graves, and if we look at the words that are used in connection
> with many deaths in Israel,
> such as "being gathered to their forefathers" and "coming to the dead,"
> I at
> least, get a strong impression that death was not viewed as "the land on no
> return," as did the Babylonians. Suggestions in the Tanakh corroborates
> (e.g. Is 26:19; Job 14:13,14; Hos 13:14, and Dan 12:13). Looking at the
> situation from the point of view of persons living in the first century
> C:E., Jesus compares death with sleep (John 11:11-13), Martha was already
> with the view of a resurrection on the last day (John 11:24), and Jesus
> finds hints at a resurrection in Ex 3:6 (Luke 20:37, 38). My point with
> passages is to show that the state of being dead was of paramount
> importance for those who wrote the Tanakh, and this corroborates my
> grammatical argument that the WAYYIQTOL of Ruth 1:3 is resultative.
> I will add that of the 1,027 YIQTOLs with past reference, there are 303
> are telic and 104 that are semelfactive. Particularly the last group
> is interesting, since the members parallel Ruth 1:3; the difference being
> that they are YIQTOLs, yet they portray events that we view as
> without expressing the so-called "durative past" or iterativity.
I agree wholeheartedly regarding your assessment of Hebraic conceptions
of death (I've published an article on Job which in part looks at death
in this work). But your whole discussion here seems elaborate to descibe
a prima facie perfective. The point of the use of wayyamot is surely to
simply say that a death has occured. In any case, semelfactives do often
not exclude iterativity, although wayyamot does. Further, are not
semelfactives characterised by the fact that they are punctual events
events having no resultant state (eg "I coughed"; "the man knocked on
the door"; etc)? Again, this is unlike what seems to be expressed by
wayyamot (at least from the prespective of the story and Naomi's).
Some other examples: Gen 4:1 - here again the wayyiqtol verbs, prima
facie, refer to perfective events. And what about the common verb of
speech, wayyo'mer? Doesn't this refer to the whole, perfective speech
act, not just a portion of it? Regarding yiqtol, in Gen 18:10, isn't it
referring here to a perfective, future event (ie the imperfective aspect
has been neutralised)? Also 1 Kgs 1:14?
> > Regards,
> > David Kummerow.
> > _______________________________________________
> Best regards
> Rolf Furuli
> University of Oslo
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