Verbs in Ps 18 ans 2 Sam 22

Bryan Rocine 596547 at
Fri Sep 4 15:15:07 EDT 1998

> From: Paul Zellmer <zellmer at>
> To: Biblical Hebrew <b-hebrew at>
> Cc: Biblical Hebrew <b-hebrew at>
> Subject: Re: Verbs in Ps 18 ans 2 Sam 22
> Date: Thursday, September 03, 1998 11:02 PM
> Bryan Rocine wrote:
> > A comparison of Psa 18 and 2 Sam 22 indicates that the allegedly
> > morpheme, the so-called "vav(or waw)-conversive," no matter what
exactly it
> > is called,--Oh, boy, I shouldn't say many scholars, so much
> > weighty tradition!!!-- does not exist.  The prefixed "narrative
> > <vav-patakh-dagesh forte> on a yiqtol has discourse function rather
> > conversive power.  It makes *explicit*(like the English words _then_
> > _so_) the consecutivity of events that is left implicit without it.
> >
> You're saying that the differences in the two passages show changes in
the explicit
> consecutivity, but you still aren't clarifying the *significance* of the
changes.  Is
> it just the result of the poetical form?  This appears on the surface to
be a case
> *against* the predictability of the significance of texts using only
> features, *against* the discourse analysis methods.  How do *you* resolve
the apparent
> instability of forms?
> > >
> > >Here's a comparison of some of the verb forms in Psa 18 and 2 Sam
> > verse numbers conveniently correspond) which are essentially the same
> >  How can this be?
> > >
> > >Verse   root    Psa 18      2 Sam 22
> > >
> > >7       $m(     yiqtol      wayyiqtol
> > >12      $yt     yiqtol      wayyiqtol
> > >14      r(m     wayyiqtol   yiqtol
> > >15      $lx     wayyiqtol   yiqtol
> > >16      glh     wayyiqtol   yiqtol
> > >24      hyh     wayyiqtol   wayyiqtol
> > >                 (short)      (long)
> > >38      )sg     weyiqtol    wayyiqtol
> > >39      npl     yiqtol      wayyiqtol
> > >44      pl+     yiqtol      wayyiqtol
> > >
> To expand on your question, how can this be, if the discourse analysis
process has any
> validity?
> Yours,
> Paul
> --

I am suggesting there is no difference in the verbal meaning of yiqtol vs.
wayyiqtol in the two poems.  Neither is there a difference in the notion of
consecutivity in these poems when the yiqtol is used vs. the wayyiqtol. 
There is a difference in the *representation* of the consecutivity only. 
Compare the English examples:

a.)  I awoke. I washed. I went to school.
b.)  I awoke.  Then I washed.  Then I went to school.

The difference is surface only or representation only.  In both cases the
events are single, bounded, consecutive events in the past.  Example b.),
by using the word _then_, makes explicit the consecutivity of the events
which is left implicit in example a.).   The writer of b.) has exercised an
option that the writer of a.) chooses not to exercise.

The concept of option is critical to discourse analysis, more important in
some ways than rules.  Only when the
speaker/writer has options does his choice become discourse-meaningful. 
When there is no choice for the speaker/writer, when the morphology or
syntax is obligatory, then there is no rhetorical or poetic value to it. 
That "option" exists for the native speaker of a language is not to suggest
that exercise of the options is un-constrained.  Linguistic conventions
shared by the speaker/writer and his audience put pressure on the
speaker/writer  not to stray too far from stock constructions.  The bigger
the unit we analyze(eg. from small to large we have morpheme, word, phrase,
clause, sentence, paragrapgh, discourse), the more optional behavior we
will see.  So the
activity called discourse analysis includes a quest for three things:
1.   the battery of options that a speaker/writer has 
2.   the function(or meaning) of each option.  
3.   the convention which contrains the exercise of the options.

Back to the English examples above.  "Previous" research on English on the
three issues above is applied as follows:
1.   The use of the word _then_ is an option for expressing consecutivity
of events.  
2.   Use of the word _then_ emphasizes the consecutivity of the events.  
3.   Conventionally, _then_ is used repeatedly in English, particularly in
a series of short, declarative sentences, primarily by kids.  

If b.) is said by an adult we might imagine a context where flaunting
convention is rhetorically purposeful.  Perhaps his credibility is in
question.  So he exercises the _then_ option, even though a bit
unconventional, to stress that his memory of the morning in question is
crystal clear.

Hopefully, you will find my Readings 3 and 5 instructive on the matter of
options in BH.

Hoping to help,

B. M. Rocine
Associate Pastor
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13208


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