Waw consecutive in Gen 1

Henry Churchyard churchh at usa.net
Sun Dec 12 12:41:17 EST 1999

> Subject: Re: Waw consecutive in Gen 1
> From: "Paul Zellmer" <zellmer at digitelone.com>
> Date: Sat, 4 Dec 1999 18:18:52 +0800

> most students of Hebrew have moved away from the old
> perfect-imperfect concepts, although lexicons still use the terms to
> describe the suffixed-prefixed forms.  However, as far as your
> questions about the waw-consecutive, this term carried so much
> baggage that raised so many questions that almost no one uses it
> anymore. It can be used as a rule-of-thumb that the prefix form of
> the verb with the waw-pathah-dagesh is generally past when found in
> prose passages, but even this is questioned by some. [N.B. I said,
> "past," not "perfect." The form referred to as "perfect" seems to
> carry much more meaning than simple event time.]

I consciously still used "traditional" terminology in my recent
dissertation (especially Chapter 4), because the new terminology
didn't really seem all that helpful for the lines of research I was
trying to pursue -- the term "prefix" glosses over the crucial
distinction between original *yaqtul forms and original *yaqtulu forms
which was under discussion there (leaving aside the fact that the
so-called "prefix" forms use suffixes in their conjugation).  The
terms "short prefix" vs. "long prefix" are somewhat awkward in
expressing this distinction, both because it's not actually the
prefixes which vary in length, but also because these terms seem to
presuppose that *yaqtulu and *yaqtul were originally variant forms of
a single conjugation, which is not necessarily the case.  Also, the
terms "perfect" and "imperfect" no doubt greatly oversimplify the
complex syntactic and semantic patterns of usage (that I wasn't
concerned with), but they're convenient cover terms to express the
fact that in broad terms there was sufficient similarity between the
meanings of wayyiqtol and plain qatal to form the basis of a
morphological-phonological analogy (and besides, I notice that there
are a number of differing opinions and terminologies in the field of
Hebrew verbal semantics, and I'm not sure that there are fairly
neutral and widely-recognizable terms other than "imperfect(ive)" and
"perfect(ive)" that would be convenient for a phonologist to use).

Henry Churchyard   churchh at usa.net   http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/

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