[b-hebrew] Verbal Aspect (was Tenses - Deut 6:4)
farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Fri Mar 9 21:38:10 EST 2007
I can't say how accurate Rolf's statistics are because I do not have the
time look at every verb myself. There will be some discrepancies, eg he
listed a yiqtol as past tense the other day which to me was clearly future.
However, what I can say is this: 1. wayyiqtol is basically restricted to
narrative past tense. 2. qatal has encroached on the meaning of
wayyiqtol in direct speech, ie it is now part of the verbal paradigm
whereas in pre-BH it was not. 3. In direct speech, the participle seems
to have encroached on yiqtol, which may have been a present-future, but
the participle has taken over some of the present tense function. 4. The
default meaning of qatal in declarative non-stative clauses is absolute
past. 5. qatal in non-paratactic constructions defaults to anterior
tense (relative past tense). 6. Rhetorical/exaggerated future which can
be explained based upon a past tense meaning. 7. qatal for politeness,
which can be explained based upon a past tense meaning. 8. qatal
restricted to temporal adverbs 'ethmol and 'emesh while yiqtol is
restricted to temporal adverbs `attah and machar. 9. yiqtol sometimes
used of future perfective actions. 10. qatal sometimes used of past
> A few days ago Rolf gave the following table referring to past
> QATAL: 7,446 53.5 %
> WEQATAL 357 5,9 %
> YIQTOL 1,027 7.5 %
> WEYIQTOL 50 4.4 %
> WAYYIQTOL 13,539 93.1 %
> Part act 1,739 32.7 %
> Part pass 364 33.1 %
> Infin con. 760 57.2 %
> Infin abs 86 29.8 %
> Now, when one adds to that that when one reads an unpointed text, the
> WEYIQTOL and WAYYIQTOL are indistinguishable and possibly were not
> separate in Biblical times, the past referent of the two combined is
> most likely more like the QATAL than as in the chart.
> Many years ago I studied Russian (long since forgotten) which
> grammaticalized both tense and aspect. Those who have kept it up can
> correct me on this, but at the time I noticed that the majority of
> past tense verbs used were also perfective aspect, while the majority
> of future tense verbs were imperfective. (That could have been the
> pattern just of the materials chosen for class, it's been too long
> I don't claim that Biblical Hebrew aspects are exactly the same as
> Russian, but I notice that the aspectual use as far as time referent
> seems to follow a similar pattern. What that says (at least to me) is
> that there is a certain amount of implied tense information within the
> aspectual system without the tense itself being grammaticalized within
> the language. And as I stated before, that implied tense could very
> well be from the psychological understanding of the speaker of
> complete vs. incomplete (in simple terms).
> You claim that there was a shift from aspect to tense, can you show
> that development among unambiguous native speakers from the early
> (Torah) to late pre-Exile (Jeremiah)? What evidence of that shift can
> be gleaned from Exile writers (Ezekiel, Daniel)? Can that change be
> demonstrated among post Exile authors in Tanakh, or is it found only
> in post-Tanakh Hebrew writings?
> Does a study of cognate languages show that shift from aspect to
> tense? For example, since Torah predates written Ugarit, does Torah
> Hebrew show more aspectual usage than does Ugaritic? We have several
> centuries of Aramaic texts, do they show that shift as well?
> Rolf claims that he could find no diachronic differences, can you?
> It's not that I utterly reject your claim, it's just that I need to
> see more evidence.
> Yours, Karl W. Randolph.
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