tensorpath at gmail.com
Sat Feb 5 20:29:51 EST 2011
Thanks for your educational comments.
Let me see if I understand.
1. The fully regimented and structured, spoken hebrew language today,
likely resembles the regimented and structured, spoken hebrew language of
yesterday, by way of necessity.
2. The written hebrew language of yesterday (masoretic text), likely does
not represent the hebrew spoken language of yesterday (300 b.c.), because
of the written language's less structured and regimented form; in
particular, the suffixed and prefixed verb forms, and corresponding
redundant and various usages.
3. Different geographic dialects may have separately contributed to the
written form of the language in ancient times. This circumstance may account
for the redundancy in the verb forms.
4. But what then happens in 11 a.d., when the leader of the assembly stands
up and reads a passage from the scroll of isaiah? Does the assembled
congregation follow along with limited comprehension, and more as an act of
worship? And then, after the meeting, persons desiring complete
understanding, sit down and re-read the text; or discuss it with others? Is
that the experience today, when the text is read to the assembly? A
completely different experience for the listeners, in terms of
comprehension, than conversational hebrew?
5. And if your opinion is correct, do not all of the theories accounting for
differences between verb forms in the masoretic text .... become moot?
6. In conclusion, for the written expression of the language known as
masoretic text, context, rather than verb form, rules the day? Suffixed
verbs may frequently indicate past tense. Prefixed verbs may often indicate
future tense. But context always makes the final decision on tense, aspect,
On Sat, Feb 5, 2011 at 6:01 PM, Isaac Fried <if at math.bu.edu> wrote:
> I think that the reason for the different verb forms in the masoretic
> text is that Hebrew did not develop linearly and sequentially, but rather
> grew by the confluence of contributions from different sources. Remote
> tribes, isolated cities (before the invention of the, homogenizing, mass
> media), and faraway regions developed all a slightly different vocabulary
> and verbal systems, and when all these Hebrew versions came to cross
> influence the King's language they imparted to it, on the one hand, a great
> redundancy, yet at the same time, they endowed it with great beauty and
> The basic idea of the Hebrew verbal system is to combine the act and the
> actors. The "light" QATAL form is bare (light) and is devoid of any personal
> pronouns for the actors, which are added separately: BARA ELOHIYM ET
> HA$AMAYIM. This form is naturally considered as "past", as an honest person
> naturally talks about what he did, and not of what he "will" do. Another
> invention was the QITEL form with the two personal pronouns I and E, for the
> perpetrator and the receiver of the action, inserted into it. Still another
> invention was the HI-QTIL form, with the first pp, HI, put in front of the
> act, and the the second pp, I, inserted between the letters T and L of the
> Are these forms inherently different? not al all (I reject the "forceful"
> characterization of of the QITEL form). You may use $ABAR and you may use
> $IBER, and it will mean exactly the same thing. A poet may use this
> redundancy to embellish his poetry or enliven any of his highfalutin prose,
> the same way that any writing is embellished by synonyms or near synonyms.
> Then came Hebrew, VA-TA-KAM HA-IVR-IT, and took advantage of this
> redundancy to add shades of of meaning to these various constructions or
> BINYANIM. $ALAM is distinct from $ILEM, which is still different than
> YI-QTOL also contains two personal pronouns: YI and O, but by agreement
> this form refers to future action. VA-YI-QTOL is YI-QTOL with the added verb
> VA = BA, 'be'.
> Now, reading is not hearing. In reading we may stop and reread, or we may
> stop to ponder the meaning of what is being said. Speech comes in an
> uninterrupted stream that needs to be unambiguously grasped in "real time".
> Also, poetry is intended for the literati, but everyday speech is one size
> fits all. This is why, contrary to the language of the bible, the spoken
> Hebrew of today is fully structured and regimented. U NATAN (I hear often
> HU) and HI) shortened to a mere U and I = EE as in 'feet', the speakers
> possibly unwittingly reverting to "proto-Semitic" forms) is 'he gave', I
> NATN-AH is 'she gave', U I-TEN is 'he will give', I TI-TEN is 'she will
> give', ANIY NOSEA is 'I am traveling', AT NOSA-AT is 'you are traveling'
> (yet I often hear: MA ATAH OSE MAXAR? MAXAR ANIY NOSEA LE-TEL-AVIV, with
> NOSEA in place of E-SA).
> Pregnant (with n-tuplets) words are also out; no VA-YI-KAX, and no
> HI-$LIYK-A-T-NIY. Instead: AZ U LAKAX, and I HI-$LIYK-AH OTIY.
> Isaac Fried, Boston University
> On Feb 4, 2011, at 7:56 PM, fred burlingame wrote:
> I am trying to figure out the reason for the two verb forms in the
> masoretic text.
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