The form of weqatal

Dave Washburn dwashbur at
Thu Aug 12 12:41:41 EDT 1999

> Pardon the naive question, as mine always seem to be, to the frustration of some on this list.  In

Not a problem for me!  It's a perfectly good question IMO.

> your response to Peter you wrote:
> > Subject: Re: Re[6]: The form of weqatal
> > From:
> > Date: Sat, 7 Aug 1999 09:57:31 -0700
> > X-Message-Number: 2
> > <snip>
> > It's possible.  My own working hypothesis, built on my work on the
> > wayyiqtol, is that there are some basic oppositions in effect in the
> > 4 conjugations, based on a combination of syntactic connection
> > and mode:
> >
> > WAYYIQTOL - no syntactic connection, realis mode (indicative)
> > QATAL - syntactic connection, realis mode (indicative)
> > WEQATAL - no syntactic connection, irrealis mode (modal)
> > YIQTOL - syntactic connection, irrealis mode (modal)
> >
> > I'm defining "modal" as Galia Hatav defines it, which includes
> > future, subjunctive, volition, etc.  The place of imperative, jussive
> > and cohortative in this pattern I haven't looked into yet.
> >
> As you know, Furuli has tried to explain the verbal system with a two-fold model (all yiqtols are
> yiqtols, etc.).  The four-fold model always is left with some unknown converting factor, but
> usually only able to "explain" ONE HALF of the model, regarding the wayyiqtol (e.g. short and long
> prefix conjunction, or wa +doubling corresponding to an Egyptian conjunction or to an Arabic
> conjunction, etc.)  Working with your model, could it be that the "converting factor" is word
> order, since what one usually has is:
> X+YIQTOL - syntactic connection, irrealis mode (modal)
> WAYYIQTOL - no syntactic connection, realis mode (indicative)
> X+QATAL - syntactic connection, realis mode (indicative)
> WEQATAL - no syntactic connection, irrealis mode (modal)

To answer your question I should actually refer you to my 1994 
"Hebrew Studies" article, but I'll give the Readers Digest version of 
the relevant part here.  In brief, I do not consider the WAW prefix to 
be a conjunction, and hence I don't consider it to have any 
"conversive" force in the traditional sense that the term has been 
used.  Rather, I consider it to be an inflectional morpheme that is 
actually part of the Hebrew verb system itself, and it is this 
inflectional morpheme that carries the sense of syntactic break.  
The fact that it resembles the conjunction in its surface form does 
not make it a conjunction any more than the fact that HE-
interrogative resembles the definite article means it has to be a 
form of the definite article (an analogy I've presented many times 
here, and I'm sure some folks are getting sick of it).  Prefixed MIN 
occasionally resembles the participial prefix of non-Qal forms.  And 
so it goes.  We have such homonyms all over Hebrew, yet when 
we get to the WAW prefix we seem to have a blind spot.  I'm 
hoping to help fix that.

I hope this answers your question and hasn't digressed too much...

Dave Washburn
A Bible that's falling apart means a life that isn't.

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