Jos 14-21 (was die Flucht ins Prasens (was Ruth))

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Tue Jun 1 10:26:04 EDT 1999

Dear Rolf,

When I mentioned in passing that Ugaritic had a past tense YIQTOL 
form, I was relying mainly on what you wrote on 28 May, message with 
subject "Re: force of conjunctions (was die Flucht..)":

     Regarding question 1, it is possible that the YIQTOL-part of 
     WAYYIQTOL *alone* can account for the past meaning of WAYYIQTOL 
     in narratives, as is the case in Ugaritic. T.L. Fenton, 1963, 
     "The Ugaritic Verbal System", doctoral thesis, Oxford, found that 
     yqtl in Ugaritic is the normal narrative form in literary texts, 
     and sometimes this form is found with enclitic "u". He found 561 
     examples of yqtl with past meaning, 70 as past continuous, and 
     191 with future meaning. I.D. Marcus, 1971, "Aspects of the 
     Ugaritic Verb in the Light of Comparative Semtitic Grammar", 
     Ph.D. diss. Columbia univ. USA and D.H. Madvig, 1966, "A Grammar 
     of the Royal Assyrian Annals of the Sargonid Dynasty", Ph.D 
     diss., Brandeis univ. USA, confirm that yqtl is the normal 
     narrative form in Ugaritic.

Please stop trying to score points by finishing your post with a 
question for which you know the answer mush better than I do. If you 
do not allow me to argue that the Ugaritic YIQTOL was a past tense, 
please avoid using the same argument in your own postings. It is clear 
to me from Fenton's statistics that by your criteria YIQTOL in 
Ugaritic is NOT a past tense. But if so, your argument to Paul fails 
just as much as mine to you.

In general in science, if someone applies a method (especially one 
which is not widely accepted) and it gives counter-intuitive results, 
then they should look again at the appropriateness of the method. Of 
course the counter-intuitive results may be correct, but the method 
may also be flawed. I think that may be the case with your method, 
which seems to assume a purity and uniformity not found in real human 
languages. As Prof. Niccacci just wrote, what is needed is "close 
attention to the text and accurate comparison more than speculation 
and general linguistics". I think it might be instructive to apply 
your methods to living Semitic languages, e.g. colloquial Arabic, 
modern Aramaic, even modern Hebrew, and then compare the results with 
native speaker intuition. You may find some surprises.

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re[4]: Jos 14-21 (was die Flucht ins Prasens (was Ruth))
Author:  furuli at at internet
Date:    31/05/1999 04:47


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? If they did 
not, their claim of seeing a preterite is suspect. Did they make such a 
distinction, Peter?


Rolf Furuli
Lecturer in Semitic languages
University of oslo

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