Prototype Theory and Hebrew Tense/Aspect

Dave Washburn dwashbur at
Wed Dec 15 19:39:58 EST 1999

The +realis feature is not part of the prototype, since
> there is no morphological split between modal and non-modal forms in
> Hebrew. All the tensed verb forms except wayyiqtol are secondary modal
> uses, but they have to without any primary modal forms (ie there is no
> subjunctive, optative, evidential, etc forms). 

I have to disagree.  While it's true that the modal forms aren't as 
rich as they are in Greek, it's pretty clear that yiqtol and weqatal 
are modal, which is to say non-realis, as opposed to qatal and 
wayyiqtol which clearly encode some sort of real mode (i.e. 
actualities, not just possibles or potentialities).  Perhaps 
subjunctive, optative etc. aren't the primary modal forms; rather, 
there is one primary modal form [-realis] and the others are 
derivatives of it.

[snip - good stuff, I have nothing to add]

Dave Washburn
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.
                                   Psalm 86:11

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