Wayyiqtol origins/phonology (was: die Flucht ins Prasens, Peter)

Henry Churchyard churchyh at ccwf.cc.utexas.edu
Tue Jun 1 04:12:53 EDT 1999

>> From: peter_kirk at sil.org
>> Date: Mon, 31 May 1999 11:00:29 -0400
>> Subject: Re[4]: die Flucht ins Prasens, Peter

>> The crucial point for me is the following. You wrote:

>>> Many experts on verbal semantics assert that the morphology of a
>>> language's verbs will exhibit a consistent meaning.  That seems
>>> intuitively obvious.  In the terms of BH, it seems intuitively
>>> obvious that prefixed forms will share a meaning with prefixed
>>> forms and suffixed with suffixed...

>> I am sorry, but it is "intuitively obvious" to me that this
>> statement is wrong, at least when applied to Hebrew YIQTOL and
>> WAYYIQTOL forms.  Here we have two forms which (apart from the
>> prefix) are identical for the majority of verbs, but different in a
>> significant minority of verbs (III-He/Yod verbs and "hollow"
>> verbs).  Those differences have to be accounted for, and a
>> phonological explanation is difficult.  However, there is evidence
>> from cognate languages that the two are derived from originally
>> completely different paradigms.  If they are different paradigms,
>> there is no reason to expect their meanings to be related.  I know
>> that this does not solve all of the problems, especially concerning
>> QATAL and WEQATAL, but it is surely enough to make one reexamine
>> any conclusions reached solely on apparent identity of form,
>> especially when they are not supported by the great majority of
>> occurrences of the verb forms.

> From: Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no>
> Date: Mon, 31 May 1999 11:47:12 +0200
> Subject: Re[4]: Jos 14-21 (was die Flucht ins Prasens (was Ruth))

> The first question we have to ask when we start to investigate the
> possibilities you mention is: Those who "found" this old apocopated
> preterite in Ugaritic, Accadian and elsewhere, did they
> systematically differentiate between preterite (grammaticalized past
> tense) and past meaning?

Actually, the term "apocopated" is not very relevant, except to those
languages which actually show disappearance of a root consonant in
some forms (Hebrew and Moabite, according to pp. 137-139 of Randall
Garr's _Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestine_).  However in the older
languages, the "non-volitive yaqtul tense" does show definite
morphological distinctness from any other verb paradigm -- except
sometimes the jussive (which is "volitive").  It is only with the late
2nd. millennium B.C. loss of word-final short-vowels in Hebrew that
the original "yaqtul" and "yaqtulu" forms began to be phonologically
homophonous in many (but by no means all) cases.  Furthermore, the
"non-volitive yaqtul tense" is found in languages which simply don't
have a yaqtulu (which is apparently not an old common Semitic form,
while yaqtul is).  (I use the neutral term "non-volitive yaqtul tense"
to allow you to call it whatever you want to call it, if you don't
like the term "preterite"; Rainey would prefer "non-injunctive" or
"indicative" instead of "non-volitive".)

In any case, various phonological phenomena in attested Tiberian
Hebrew (stress differences, apocopation in lamedh-he, the difference
between the final syllables of Hiph`il wayyaqtel vs. yaqtil, etc.) are
strong phonological indications that Hebrew wayyiqtol goes back to an
original *yaqtul form with shorter endings than the *yaqtulu which is
the source of Hebrew non-consecutive yiqtol, as discussed in my
dissertation (compressed PDF of chapter 4 is included in the file to
be downloaded at http://ccwf.cc.utexas.edu/~churchyh/c1-4xcpt.zip ).

> From: "Bryan Rocine" <brocine at earthlink.net>
> Subject: Re: Re[4]: die Flucht ins Prasens, Peter
> Date: Mon, 31 May 1999 08:28:28 -0400

>> However, there is evidence from cognate languages that the two
>> [wayyiqtol and (X-) yiqtol] are derived from originally completely
>> different paradigms.

> Nevertheless, both the modal/preterite yaqtul and the habitual
> past/non-past yaqtulu forms are fientive and most often
> morphologically indistinguishable.  I can get away with describing
> wayyiqtol and yiqtol as having shared meaning by pointing to this
> lowest common denominator: fientivity (a word?  ;-) ).  They are two
> usually indistinguishable forms with a shared meaning.

I don't think it's true that they were ever "most often
morphologically indistinguishable"; at early periods (before
word-final short vowel loss), the *yaqtul paradigm consistently had
shorter endings than the *yaqtulu paradigm (absence of a short
mood-vowel suffix in forms which didn't have a person/number suffix,
as seen in yaqtul vs. yaqtulu; and shorter forms of suffixes, as in
yaqtuluu vs. yaqtuluuna, masc. 3rd. plur.).  After the historical
change of word-final short vowel loss, the former yaqtul tense was
still originally phonologically/morphologically distinct from former
yaqtulu in many cases, though the existence of such distinctions
tended to diminish somewhat over time; however, at about the same time
(I assume), the original "non-volitive yaqtul tense" became mostly
restricted to occurring after wa+gemination (and it's surely no
accident that this restricted distribution allowed the morphological
distinction between the original *yaqtul and *yaqtulu paradigms to be
kept up, at a time when the original historical phonological and
morphological contrasts between the two paradigms no longer
consistently survived in the language).

If you want an example of two paradigms which are truly "most often
morphologically indistinguishable" in Tiberian Hebrew, it's the
jussive and imperfect.

Henry Churchyard churchyh at ccwf.cc.utexas.edu  http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~churchh

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