BH, Jouon on syntax?
peter_kirk at SIL.ORG
peter_kirk at SIL.ORG
Wed May 12 00:24:47 EDT 1999
DW: ...Nope. That wasn't the criterion.
PK: Well then, what was it? You did write earlier "Syntactically, it
only makes sense to begin with the most basic form of the verb, which
is the qatal. All other forms, including those with W-, are made by
adding something to it..." I do not accept that yiqtol is derived from
qatal plus an affix, see the following answer.
DW: ...Then what would you say is the foundational form of the verb?
PK: The only foundational form I would recognise is the triconsonantal
root. All surface forms are derived by adding various affixes
(including infixes) to that.
DW: ...Rare in all possible types of ancient Hebrew, or just in the
specialized type of literature that we work with? The nature of the
corpus has to be considered as well.
PK: Our corpus is not all that narrow, it does consist of a wide range
of different genres. (Out of interest, what size and variety of corpus
would usually be considered sufficient for a linguistic study
determining the basic word order of a modern language?) To say
anything beyond this corpus is pure speculation. I would accept that
any conclusion has to be somewhat tentative because of the limited
corpus. In any case the size of the corpus is irrelevant to this
particular question as I am simply suggesting that clauses with an
initial we- prefix should be considered alongside those without,
simply because the alternative of looking only at clauses with no
initial we- would give us a far more limited set of examples.
PK: Concerning qatal and weqatal: I am not sure that I have a theory
in any technical sense. But my thinking, which is unchanged as far as
I know, is something like this: On a morphological or syntactic basis
(the distinction I suppose is based on whether we- is taken as a
prefix or a separate word, which is I think a rather arbitrary choice)
the form weqatal is made up from two morphemes we- and qatal (and
qatal is further made up from the root q-t-l and one or more infix
morphemes giving the vowels). This is NOT the same as I have been
arguing concerning wayyiqtol, which I view as more than we- plus
yiqtol. On the other hand, from a semantic viewpoint I do see the
meaning of weqatal as being different from the sum of the two parts
we- and qatal. This is hard to account for; on the other hand, such
situations are common in language e.g. in the English present perfect
"I have gone" the word "have" does not have its normal meaning
"possess" (any attempt to explain as "I possess the attribute of
gone-ness" would be rather far-fetched except perhaps as a theory of
how this form arose in the distant past) but its meaning has been
modified within this construction. If we keep syntax and semantics
strictly separate, as I think Dave prefers to do, this semantic shift
should not affect the arguments for basic word order; but perhaps we
do need to take care that there is not some confusing interaction.
______________________________ Reply Separator
Subject: Re: BH, Jouon on syntax?
Author: dwashbur at nyx.net at internet
Date: 11/05/1999 10:29
> Doug here. Just a few comments to keep the ball rolling.
> On Tue, 11 May 1999 06:41:41 -0700 "Dave Washburn" <dwashbur at nyx.net>
> > Peter wrote:
> > > I agree here with Doug, and want to add some further points
> > addressed
> > > to Dave:
> > >
> > > 1) If you define the most basic verb form as the one with fewest
> > > affixes, well, in very many languages (arguably including Hebrew),
> > > that is the imperative. But imperatives generally also have
> > > non-standard word order, subject deletion and all sorts of special
> > > features which make them unsuitable for judging basic word order.
> > So I
> > > think your methodology needs to be reexamined.
> > That's not how I defined the most basic verb form.
> It may not be how you defined the most basic form but was it not the
> criterion by which you judged qatal the most basic form? That's
> certainly my impression based on what you had written previously.
Nope. That wasn't the criterion.
> > > 2) I am also far from convinced that the qatal form is
> > fundamentally
> > > the most basic form; perhaps it only appears so because of the
> > > accidental null form of the 3rd person singular masculine suffix.
> > In
> > > Arabic there is a final short a in the equivalent qatala form,
> > which
> > > is deleted in Hebrew by a purely phonological process, if I am not
> > > mistaken.
> > Then what would you say is the foundational form of the verb?
> I don't want to sound like a schoolkid in a fight here, so forgive the
> wording here, but "you started it". Peter is simply saying here that
> he's not convinced qatal is the fundamentally the most basic form. It
> was your assertion that it is; to play the skeptic about your assertion
> does not require me or anyone else to have a positive assertion for the
> 'most basic form'.
I find simply saying "I disagree" to be quite unsatisfying; offering an
alternative advances discussion much more effectively, at least
> > > 3) For the sake of argument, let us look at clauses in which the
> > verb
> > > form is qatal. A typical Hebrew clause consists of a conjunction
> > > (asyndeton is rare, and by far the most common conjunction is
> > we-), a
> > Rare in all possible types of ancient Hebrew, or just in the
> > specialized type of literature that we work with? The nature of the
> > corpus has to be considered as well.
> Do you know what other types of ancient Hebrew we have to work with?! We
> have what we have; it seems speculation beyond this doesn't really
> advance things. Am I overlooking something?
The question is, are we right in building a syntax of Hebrew based
on material that is predominantly either narrative or poetry and
saying "Since this is the most prevalent form in what we have, it
must be the most fundamental" or do we need to do some
extrapolation and try to determine, using principles of linguistic
science (in this case, syntax, and in my case, syntax from a
transformational approach) which forms are base-generated and
which are derived? The former amounts to counting, little more.
As a grammarian, I find that less than satisfactory.
> I passed on the last round since I'm not 'up' on Peter's qatal-weqatal
> theory anyway.
Apparently I'm not either! :-)
A Bible that's falling apart means a life that isn't.
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