The request for linguistic theory explanations

Paul Zellmer zellmer at
Fri Dec 24 06:31:35 EST 1999

Ken Litwak wrote:

>      I see lots of posts about wayyiqtols (whatever that is) and lots
> of linguistic theory.  I'm not sure how to apply any of it to actually
> translating or doing exegesis.  I'd like to see someone offer
> suggestions for how to apply these sorts of discussions to those
> of us who've never taken a linguistics course and don't know
> what a wayyiqtol is from a wayyeqtal in terms of significance.    I
> suggested this a couple of days ago.  Since no one responded,
> does that mean that such discussions have no practical
> significance?  I hope not.
> Ken Litwak


One reason why I didn't respond was because you did not, at the time,
give any specifics as to what you wanted explained.  I believe you
wrote, "Or maybe more to the point, can we talk about biblical hebrew?
I'll even suggest a topic.  How to make all the linguistic theory I see
on this list accessible to someone like me with no training in that
area?"  I'm sure even you can see that this was a bit open-ended.

As far as what a wayyiqtol is, you apparently missed the discussion
started by Brian Sullivan back on December 3.  The subject was,
"Waw-consecutive in Gen 1."  In my response to him, I specifically
mentioned that the waw-pathah-dagesh form was frequently called the
(If you missed this, it's not surprising, since it came up in the middle
of another of those great interpretive discussions.  That one was on the
creation--was it ex nihilo or not?  An aside to Jonathan Bailey: I
believe, friend, that the daily deletion quota to avoid reading messages
on these type discussions is upwards of 25, not merely five, as you
suggested.  And that very nearly approaches the estimate that you
thought you would have to ignore if you joined other lists.)

Now let be show my ignorance: Is there indeed a form that you know of
that is called the wayyeqtal?  Or did you just make that up?

If your question is actually about the significance of the form, that,
I'm afraid, is the subject under discussion.  Different people see
different significances to the form.  So I don't know how to begin to
answer your question.  Perhaps when someone makes a statement that you
don't understand, it would be better to raise your hand and ask for an
explanation.  I believe even Jim West would understand someone doing
that!  (Hi, Jim.  I'm still planning on being home starting in March,
and you're still on my "people-to-see" list!)

Ken, I try not to use the +/- scheme for features, because I realize
that some folks get confused by it.  But I, for one, am more than
willing to explain any term that I use either on or off the list.  All
you have to do is ask.



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