Verbs in Ps 18 ans 2 Sam 22

Paul Zellmer zellmer at
Fri Sep 4 19:44:54 EDT 1998

Bryan Rocine wrote:

> 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.

So, if I am understanding you right, the use or omission of the vav here is
poetic license, right?  Or are you making a case for the yiqtol having the same
effect as the wayyiqtol in narratives?  Please forgive me if my question is too
basic.  I have studied discourse analysis in general, but I really am still
introducing myself to the work done in the Hebrew language specifically.

> 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.

If a.) had used commas instead of periods, I would agree with your
equivalency.  English (my dialect, anyway) uses a pause preceded by a medial
high intonation as the equivalent of a coodinating conjunction.  However, the
same pause preceded by a low intonation (a period) in the example would give a
greater impression of "jabs," for lack of a better image.  As I read your a.),
which is presented as prose, I would expect us to be in some sort of peak.

> 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.

But once again, Bryan, if discourse analysis is to have any real value, the
exercise of the "options" or variations must generally result from a deliberate
decision of the speaker/writer on the effect of that portion of the discourse.
There are, of course, stylistic variations between individuals and even between
works of differing purposes for a single writer (personal writing vs. formal
papers, for example).  But predictability based on the forms observed is
required for the analysis to have any benefit.

> 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.

Again, I would agree with your analysis *if* a.) assumes "comma-like"
intonation.  If it is as is written, I actually would find b.) more
rhetorically "unmarked."  Maybe that's because I see children's speech as being
more likely to lack rhetorical devices.

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

The class hasn't gotten there yet, so all I have given them is a cursory
overview.  I'll go back and look closer, but it will probably be next week.

> Hoping to help,
> Bryan

And you are.

Paul and Dee Zellmer, Jimmy Guingab, Geoffrey Beltran
Ibanag Translation Project
Cabagan, Philippines

zellmer at

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