<wayyiqtol> again (G.Hatav)
ghatav at aall.ufl.edu
Thu Dec 30 12:32:23 EST 1999
Dear Professor Nicacci,
> < ...>
>1) (Alviero Niccacci) I called *tense* a verbform or nonverbal
>construction that conveys the mainline of communication in one of the
>three temporal axes. Therefore in historical narrative wayyiqtol is
>the only tense.
When I started my Ph.D. one of the most disturbing things was the
terminology in the field of TAM. Different linguists use the terms in
different ways. That is why in all my posts for the list, I always wrote
explicitely that I refer to the distinction 'past, present, future' when
using the term "tense". This term has been used by some to refer to aspect,
or both tense and aspect. But I am still having problems with understanding
your definition, because although you don't see it as referring to 'past,
present, future' you still used the phrase "in one of the three temporal
axes." If I am not mistaken, by "tense" you mean the main temporal
construction in a certain text. Am I right? In that case, is it the case
that if a verb form is the main construction in text A but not in text B,
that form is a tense only with respect to text A? Your discussion on
<qatal> seems to suggest just that. That means that the forms change their
properties (from being tenses to not being tenses) from one text to the
other, which I believe is not good, theoretically speaking.
Qatal is not a tense in the full sense because in
>historical narrative it is a secondary-line verb form (in fact it
>appears in the second place of the sentence, i.e x-qatal).
What does it mean that <qatal> is not a tense in the FULL sense? Is
it possible to be tense only in part? What do you call <qatal> in the
narrative? What is its property?
>contrary, qatal is a tense in direct speech because it is used to
>start the mainline of an oral narrative, as shown by the examples I
>quoted in my previous post.
Why do you see <qatal> as the main tense if it only OPENS
direct speech (DS)? If we have a narrative within DS, as in 2Sam 1:6-11,
except for the first clause, all the clauses will be in <wayyiqtol> (just
like in regular narrative). Then why go according to one clause instead of
most of the clauses in determining the main verb form in DS?
In direct speech we have other tenses as
>well, i.e. x-yiqtol for simple, indicative future, jussive &
>cohortative yiqtol, and imperative. The nonverbal sentence (with or
>without participle) is also a tense in the axis of the present
>because it is used to convey mainline.
Naturally, because jussive, cohortative and imperative are used to
perform speech acts.
> Outside historical narrative, i.e. both in prose direct
>speech and in poetry, wayyiqtol is only used as a continuation form,
>i.e. it continues a verbform that is not a wayyiqtol and shares its
Not true. This is what Driver implicitely suggested. One of the
main arguments Bauer had against Driver's theory is that eleven books in
the Bible start with a <wayyiqtol> verb. In checking beginning of segments
(relying on the Jewish division of the text, namely into PARASHOT PTUXOT
and PARASHOT STUMOT, I found many examples where a <wayyiqtol> clause opens
a segment and doe not continue another verb form.
>>When we translate the
>>verses into English (or any other language which has tenses - past,
>>present, future) we have to use tenses, as it is obligatory in Englsih. The
>>question is how do we know what tense to use. Following your analysis it
>>is not a problem in the case of <wayyiqtol>, since you see it as the past
>>tense, but what do you do with <qatal>, <yiqtol>, <wqatal> and <qotel>?
>2) (AN) As you know from reading Chap. 5 of my book, I listed a
>series of *tense transitions* (i.e. shifts from one verbform to the
>other, indicated with ->) that account for all the verbforms and
>nonverbal constructions attested in historical narrative. E.g.
>wayyiqtol -> x-qatal to express an antecedent circumstance, or
>simultaneity, contrast, or emphasis on the X element; wayyiqtol ->
>weqatal / x-yiqtol to express repetion, description; wayyiqtol ->
>nonverbal sentence (with or without participle) to express
But this is not very helpful, since you provide a taxonomic list of
uses. I summarized your claims in my book (p 15-16); let me copy what I
worte about them:
... This pragmatic approach has many insightful local points... but
does not discern features for the forms and hence does not allow
prediction for their uses. For example, the form <qatal> is found
narrative as well as in the DS material (table 2), in the recovered
information of the narrative and the DS (table 3), in degree zero of DS
(table 3), and in the present volitive moods (also table 3). Niccacci
himself admits that "Each case has to be judged on its own merits from
literary criteria and the meaning of the text." (p. 59 (Dave)
(1994), correctly, notes that "such an approach takes us into the
realm of semantic forces of *individual* verb and ultimately can tell
us nothing about...WP (=wayyiqtol) in a more generalized sense." (p.
31; emphasis is mine).
>3) (AN) As one sees form the above, I try to learn from the text. The
>text is our only source. From the text we have to deduct a theory of
>the verb--wherefrom, otherwise? I would certainly not encourage to
>start with general linguitics as is too often the case today. Too
>much theory, and too little analysis of texts.
I don't believe you can do without a theory, but I agree that you
have to analyze the text.
>4) (AN) I am not able to discuss your theory. I should study it in
>full, which I hope to do as I shall get your book. I think we have
>enough evidence to show that the verbforms do have a time reference
>of their own and do encode tense.
I agree that they refer to time (hence my adopting Reichenbach's
R-time notion), but I do not think they encode tense in the sense of
Actually they are full tenses, i.e.
>they encode a FIX time reference, when they convey mainline of
Again, you may mean something different by "tense" than
past-present-future, in which case I might agree (depending on what you
> As for wayyiqtol in poetry, I think it is used exactly as in
>direct speech. It keeps its past time reference, and therefore is not
>used with a future reference. Indeed, Joüon-Muraoka #118s page 395
>mention the use of wayyiqtol for the future after the so-called
>*prophetic qatal*; however the *prophetic qatal* itself is called
>into doubt, and perhaps rightly.
I have nothing to say about poetry.
I hope you don't consider my comments abrasive.
>Peace and all good for the New Year 2000.
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