VadimCherny at mail.ru
Wed Sep 21 11:59:37 EDT 2005
>>> Not "less than a thousand", but, to quote Rolf on 27th July this year:
>>>> the 1,027 examples of YIQTOL with past reference
>>> Also on 9th June 2004 he mentioned:
>>>> more than 2,000 YIQTOLs with present reference
>> I don't have Tanakhic statistics at hand, but 3,000 verbs do not sound
>> like a major number. That is about 100 irregular verbs per book, a few
>> per chapter. That is a tiny percentage, indeed. Besides, I expect Rolf's
>> figures to be vastly inflated to reflect his exegetical needs.
> 3000 YIQTOLs is not a tiny percentage. From Rolf's figures, which can this
> far be verified from any morphological database, there are 13,619 YIQTOLs
> in the entire Hebrew Bible. This figure excludes WAYYIQTOLs and probably
> WEYIQTOLs, but probably includes jussive and cohortative forms - although
> these forms are often apocopated which indicates to me that they were
> originally a distinct verb form. As he pointed out, this means that 7.5%
> of all YIQTOLs are past. In fact 26.9% are past, present or "Present
> completed", in other words clearly non-future. There is no way that you
> can claim that more than one quarter is "a tiny percentage".
English irregular verbs, are they more than 27% of the total?
Your figure of 26.9% is an overestimation on two counts, as you noted: the
figure 13,619 does not include popular wayiqtols, and Rolf's 3,000 likely
includes many normal future tense yiqtols which he prefers to read as past
reference according to his views of the context.
So, ballpark, perhaps 15% of yiqtols are not straight future tense, possibly
even less. 15% for idioms and deictic shifts doesn't sound tremendous.
> I agree with you in having some concerns about Rolf's methods in
> categorising these YIQTOLs. Certainly a significant proportion of these
> cases are debatable. But if you want to seriously dispute this data, I
> suggest you go away and examine for yourself those 13,619 YIQTOLs, or at
> least the ones in a large narrative book like Genesis - I suggest a
> narrative book because in general temporal reference is clearer in
That would be too generous. I will just read yiqtols as future tense where
Rolf sees intricate past sense.
I offered even more stringent approach. I asked Rolf publicly for the best
cases he can bring out. And I shown that they are either:
- straight future tense,
- repeatedly encountered turns like ci-yiqtol and caasher-yiqtol (that
suggests idiomatic meaning of etymologicallly future tense, often paralleled
in Russian and, to some extent, in English), or
- emphatic speech such that is likely to contain deictic shifts.
Some difficulty in coming to the common ground arises when Hebrew uses
future case in a way intelligible to Russian speakers, but not to English.
Such is Genesis 37:15, “A man asked him, asking, What do you want (future
tense)?” Even in English, the question is oriented into the future.
Ultra-polite Russian equivalent, “Что изволите?” is future.
Just a single example of clear usage of yiqtol as past tense or imperfect
would suffice for me to retract. But something clear, like "yesterday he
yiqtol." If Rolf, with his immense experience in fishing for dubious
yiqtols, could bring just one such example, the discussion would be over.
But note that the aspects hypothesis does not explain many yiqtols, as, I
think, Rolf pointed out, too. (1Kings21:6 employs yiqtol is used for
obviously completed action: Ahab already spoke to Nabot.) Rolf quotes 1.3%
of yiqtols as future completed/ perfect, though the aspects hypothesis
considers yiqtols imperfects. Any additional number of perfects is hidden in
Rolf's categories "past" and "modal." Thus, at any rate, the tense
hypothesis is no less applicable than the aspects hypothesis.
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