Tidbits from Ruth

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Tue May 4 17:18:52 EDT 1999

Paul Zellmer wrote:
>I have bit back a response several times when you have made this statement
>others (in this case, "several members of this list") holding to a view
>that verbs
>have different meanings in prose vs. poetry. The *only* one I consistently
>see making
>such a statement is you, and you are always ascribing it to the
>unspecified "others".
>On the contrary, I have noted most hold to a very consistent underlying
>principle of
>the use of the verb forms.  Poetry *is* more free to modify the forms, for
>rhythm, or whatever, but this is true in any language, is it not?  The very
>order-consciousness of the English language gets put aside frequently in
>its poetry,
>yet no one claims a separate grammar for it.  They simply refer to "poetic
>Rolf, I posit that "poetic license" plays a role in Hebrew grammar as
>well.  And as
>such, we should not build or modify the entire grammatical system based
>solely or even
>mostly on what happens in an environment that is extremely sensitive to
>the artistic
>presentation of ideas.  When I paddle a canoe, I use the same basic
>strokes.  But when
>I get in the rapids, my application of those strokes changes drastically.
>Poetry is
>fast flowing water, and the grammar used there probably reflects the
>outside borders
>of the significance of the verb forms.
>Please, tell us *who* claims *what* before you generalize a position that
>you go on to
>argue against.
>All the best,

Dear Paul,

I do not like to challenge persons who have written something before I know
if they want to discuss the particular topic they have written about. So
before I give some references to those who claim that genre change the
meaning of verbs, I have to think it over if I should do that at all. I
like to discuss topics rather than challenge persons.

However, you have sharpened your weapons, and I want to challenge you
regarding your view of the topic we are discussing by using one form as an

(1) Does wayyiqtol have a particular semantic meaning which is the same in
any context regardless of genre?

(2) Is wayyiqtol a preterite, and does it always code for past tense also
in non-narrative contexts?

(3) Is sequentarity a part of the meaning of wayyiqtol in all kinds of genre?

(4) Will "poetic licence" only change the function of wayyiqtol, but never
its meaning, or can it also change its meaning?

I would also like to hear from other list members whose view is that a
wayyiqtol and a qatal have the same meaning in all the different genres


Rolf Furuli
Lecturer in Semitic languages
University of Oslo

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