[b-hebrew] QATAl vs. VAYYIQTOL: Can we make sense of thisconstruction?
furuli at online.no
Fri Mar 31 08:03:33 EST 2006
To equate discourse function with verb form will not work well, if you apply
it to the whole text of the Tanack, not even if you only choose the
narrative parts. There were linguistic conventions among the Hebrew writers,
and such conventions have mistakenly been interpreted in a way as to equate
function and form.
For example, in Nehemiah 3:15 we find an historical account of repairing and
building. Here we find 6 QATALs, 1 WAYYIQTOL, 2 YIQTOLs and 3 or 4
WEYIQTOLs, all having past reference. If you try to find different discourse
patterns in these verses accounting for the differences in the choice of
verb forms, you will maltreat the text, and if you try to translate the text
on this basis, you may add a lot of matrial that is not in the text but is
taken from a theoretical model. Discourse analysis should be excercised on
the basis of the context and not on the basis of a preconceived thoretical
In the Tanack there are literally hundreds of examples where different verb
forms (YIQTOLs, WEYIQTOLs, WAYYIQTOLs, QATALs, and WEQTALs) are used with
exactly the same temporal reference and discourse function. There is no
reason to postulate a particular discourse difference (main storyline/
background) in Ezra 1:7-8, but the situation is very simple. The reason for
the first QATAL is simply that the verb is preceded by its subject. This
signals a discourse function, namely, to stress the subject. The reason for
the second QATAL is that it is preceded by a relative particle. The clause
has pre-past reference, and this is often, but not always, expressed by a
I see absolute no difference between the first QATAL of 1:7 and the first
WAYYIQTOL of 1:8 except for the stress of the subject in the first case. If
the author had not wanted to stress the subject, he could have used a
WAYYIQTOL in 1:7 as he does in 1:8. The point is that the discourse
function of stressing the subject is not caused by the QATAL, but by the
word order (the subject precedes the verb). In this case a WAYYIQTOL is
hardly possible, because it in most cases is clause initial.
University of Oslo
----- Original Message -----
From: <moon at sogang.ac.kr>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, March 31, 2006 12:06 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] QATAl vs. VAYYIQTOL: Can we make sense of
> I find it interesting that in Ezra 1:7-8, QATAL and VAYYIQTOL forms of the
> YCHA (bring out) occur in sequence. Is there any theory that can explain
> According to Niccatti, in narratives, VAYYIQTOL moves the main storyline,
> QATAL describes background information for the storyline. I found this
> theory quite helpful
> when I read the Scriptures. But I have never found cases where the same
> verb appears
> next to each other in QATAL and VAYYIQTOL forms, as in Ezra 1:7-8.
> If I stick to Niccatti model, I may explain this sequence as follows:
> (1) 1:5 starts a narrative sequence.
> (2) 1:6-7 describes background information by using two QATAL; 1:7
> the fact that Cyrus brough temple-things.
> (3) 1:8 recounts in more detail how Cyrus brought the temple-things by
> means of
> a narrative sequence: (a) Cyrus brought them by Mithredath the treasurer
> (b) he counted them.
> The point is that VAYYIQTOL of YCHA occurs in 1:8 simply because it
> occurs in a narrative sequence, whereas QATAL form occurs in 1:7 because
> it describes background information.
> Does this explanation make sense?
> Moon Jung
> Sogang Univ, Seoul, Korea
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