[b-hebrew] BH verbal system
kwrandolph at gmail.com
Sat Jan 30 12:12:31 EST 2010
My main interest has been as a lexicographer, not a grammarian. But then
that follows that the hardest part of learning a foreign language is getting
the vocabulary down.
In reading Tanakh a few times, it is clear that tense is not grammaticalized
by Hebrew verbs. So the use of the term “tense” is misleading at best. But
in looking at your description, it looks as if he is using the term “tense”
to mean something other than tense, which is confusing.
I tried reading Tanakh reading the verbal forms as denoting aspect, and that
didn’t work either.
Therefore the Qatal and Yiqtal forms are grammaticalizations of other
concepts. What exactly? I’m not sure.
I think a major problem is that we westerners speaking modern European
languages try to fit Biblical Hebrew into our concepts of
My initial reaction to your description is that this doesn’t sound right.
I’ll need more details to make a rebuttal, or acceptance.
Karl W. Randolph.
On Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 2:36 PM, Joseph Justiss <jljustiss at msn.com> wrote:
> Dear List Members
> I want to invite your evaluation of the BH verbal system as proposed by
> Wolfgang Schneider and summarized below by John Sailhamer in his class
> lecture notes.
> "In the Hebrew verb system, tense is used to signal the orientation of the
> speaker to the listener...In Hebrew the choice of tense depends on whether
> the action is part of a conversation or part of a narration....In Hebrew
> there are two sets of tense systems: a primary tense and a secondary tense.
> The primary tense is used to express the main action of a passage in the
> Hebrew Bible. The primary tense has only two forms.
> The secondary tense has only one form. It is used to express actions
> which lie in the background of those actions expressed in the primary
> tenses. In the Hebrew Bible, these two tense systems have merged to form one
> complete system of tenses."
> He then identifies the primary tense for narrative as the wayyiqtol and the
> primary tense for discourse as the yiqtol. The qatal is secondary in both
> narrative and discourse. I can provide more details if anyone is interested,
> or even thinks this is a valid approach to the verb. It certainly is
> radically different from time and aspect models. It seeks to ask not "What
> type of action does a verb represent?", but rather What type of
> communication does the verb represent?".
> Your thoughts?
> Joseph Justiss
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