brocine at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 4 16:26:31 EDT 1999
> for those who celebrated, i hope you had a happy simcoe
day. i spent
> the day at Niagara Falls: good day for it.
My rule is *always* stop at the mighty Falls when crossing
the US/Canadian border...at least use the Rainbow Bridge.
The sight of the Falls never gets old for me. :-)
> some thoughts on the syntax and semantics of the hebrew
verb. from jonah,
> (1) maz-zot `asita
> (2) what in the world did you do?
> (3) what in the world have you done?
> (a) can we agree that (2) and (3) are really the only
translations of `asita?
> if so, some further questions.
can't agree here. mah zo't is the main clause, and is a
reference to Jonah's present (at speaker's time) fleeing.
That makes `asita a dependent clause, "...that you have
done" or using my idiosyncratic translation method, "...that
you are a doer."
> (b) if standard hebrew syntax is verb-initial, why should
> interrogatives always be non-verb-initial?
Isn't switching the standard order of subject and verb a
common transformation for generating questions? I.e.
standard for BH simple declarative clause is V-S, and S-V
can be used for questions.
further, why should qatal
> forms in main clauses also be non-verb-initial? wouldn't
it be easier
> to say that word order for qatal is consistently verb
second in main
> clauses? it seems odd to me to say that hebrew is
> verb-initial, but that 100% of the time it's X-qatal.
> quite right about received wisdom at this point.
good point. I think, by saying that Bh is basically
verb-initial, texts may cause their students to dismiss the
issue of verb placement too easily, unthinkingly. I tnink
the ancients had *two basic locations* for the verb,
clause-initial and non-clause-initial. Manipulation of the
location of the verb plays heavily both pragmatically and
BTW, in prose there is one discourse slot in which the
clause-initial qatal is very common: the first clause of a
direct speech (or oral or "within quotation marks")
narrative (many of which are only one clause long; they
would be hard to call "narratives" technically). Would you
comment on this phenomenon?
> (c) notice that a direct question in speech forces the
> reference to the moment of speech. if so, why is `asita
and qatals in
> similar interrogatives consistently PAST relative to the
> speech? to say there is no inherent TEMPORAL DEIXIS in
> but then to turn around and say that where reference is
fixed, we get
> 100% of the time a past tense (english simple or composite
> tenses), seems to miss a generalization. and yet, why
> have a full spectrum of tense readings, if tense is not
part of its
> semantics? to invoke pragmatics here seems to be an abuse
> analytical tools.
If qatal means the state the subject is in at the time being
talked about, that's going to read like a past most of the
time because the subject entered the state at some point in
the past. Nevertheless, the form, IMO, refers to the
subject's *being in the state* rather than his entrance into
it. In a dependent clause, qatal necessarily refers to what
is past relative to the time of the main clause.
> (d) the straightforward analysis of qatals in main clauses
> temporal reference can be assured is that qatal encodes
> and that it occurs second in the sentence after some full
How about Gen 4:6 lammah noplu paneyka or Exo 10:3 `ad matay
me'anta le`anot mipanay ? --one a pretty clear reference of
qatal to the speaker's present and one to the speaker's
B. M. Rocine
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13206
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