force of conjunctions (was die Flucht..)

Rolf Furuli furuli at
Fri May 28 04:53:58 EDT 1999

Pau Zellmer wrote:

>(Since Rolf narrowed the subject, I elided those parts of Rodney's
>questions that were
>It appears to me as if you are putting words into Rodney's mouth, making
>it appear
>that he said something that he did not.  He supposed that the
>waw-plus-dagesh added
>*sequence*, which is different from *moving the account forwards*.  Since your
>challenge was to those who limited the *moving of account forward* to the
>waw-plus-dagesh, and since I have seen no one say that, I would be
>surprised if you
>got any takers on your challenge.
>That does not describe my position, but I will interact with your question
>Rolf Furuli wrote:
>> Rodney K. Duke wrote to Bryan:
>> >2) Regarding wayyiqtol: It is one matter to say that wayyiqtol is
>> >'inherently perfective' and another matter to evaluate Furuli's thesis
>> >regarding the yiqtol in wayyiqtol.  Might it not be that the yiqtol
>> >focuses in on an action/time-segment of a larger event (as perceived in
>> >the mind of the speaker) and that the wa+doubling adds a forward-moving
>> >Reference Time that creates a sense of sequentiality and hence
>> >perfectivity to most wayyiqtols?
>> Dear Rod,
>> You have asked a series of important questions in your recent posts. This
>> has been a help to focus on the real issues regarding the meaning of the
>> verb forms. To your question 2) above, I have a question to those on the
>> list who believe that the WA(YY)-element of WAYYIQTOL is more than a simple
>> conjunction:
>> For the sake of argument, please leave alone any preconceived ideas about
>> the meaning or use of the verb forms. Then /conjunction, sequence/, on the
>> basis of grammatical, syntactical, or other linguistic arguments, show that
>> the simple conjunction WA/WE prefixed to verbs form cannot drive  the
>> account forwards in the same way as WA(YY)  is able to drive the account
>> forwards. To state it differently: exactly which force is found in the
>> WA(YY)- element (a force being able to make a temporal sequence out of a
>> chain of verbs) which is not found in the conjunction WA/WE?
>I posit that it is that very characteristic of the waw conjuction that
>*is* being used
>in the wayyiqtol to move the account forward.  And that is why the
>mainline forms in
>the future-looking text are also marked by waw-conjunctions.  However, the
>by itself does not explain why the vast majority of wayyiqtols describe
>events.  Nor is this characteristic the one that is *always* picked up on
>by the
>writer.  I also posit a characteristic of the waw that appears to be a
>clause marker,
>which would explain why it often occurs clause-initially when the events
>are *not*
>moved forward (i.e., when further description is given or the like).  And,
>of course,
>between nouns, the conjuction simply acts as a conjunction.
>> Take Genesis 1:3-5 (NIV) as an example:
>> More problematic are the two WAYYIQTOLS after the QATAL. The RT of the first
>> seems to coincide with the RT of the first WAYYIQTOL of v 3, and the RT of
>> the last seems to coincide with the RT of the QATAL, so the two last
>> WAYYIQTOLs seem to include the whole sequence mentioned in vv 3,4, and 5
>> rather than adding to the sequence.
>This, of course, is a side issue, and probably should have had it's own
>Actually, here *you* are the one assuming, assuming that the RT of verse 5
>is the same
>as the RT of verse 3.  You are projecting your understanding of what
>causes the light
>and darkness on the narration of its creation.  The writer/narrator simply
>present is
>like this:
>Initially, there was no light (but there was darkness).
>God created light.
>God separated the light from the darkness.
>God named the light and the darkness.
>The darkness and the light alternated.
>Hey, that looks perfectly sequential to me, with no overlap!

Dear Paul

I hope that we in future exchanges can avoid ad hominem arguments and only
discuss matters related to the biblical text.  I did not put any words into
Rodney's mouth that was foreign to him. I just took his question as a point
of departure (without interpreting his question) for asking my own
question. I have asked this question before with no answer, and neither you
do answer it in your post. In fact, your attempt of answering the question
confuses two issues: 1) How can a prefix-form to such a great extent be
used with past meaning in narratives when other prefix-forms are used with
present and future meaning? 2) Does the prefixed WA(YY)-element give the
prefix-form another meaning than the other prefix-forms?

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.  A younger Semitic
language where we possibly can see the same trend is Syriac. In many texts
we have scores of examples of participle+perfect (defined as durative past)
as narrative form (See J. Joosten's dissertation on the Syriac text of
Matthew ). Your answer above, therefore, is beyond the point.

To answer question 2) we need to know what this WA(YY)-element is, and then
we need to do a diachronic study to find the force of the unit(s) of the
WA(YY)-element. And this is the crux of the matter: Is this WA(YY)-element
more than a simple conjunction? I suppose that no member of the list wants
to explain grammar and syntax in an esoteric  or metaphysical way, saying
"There must be something there because of the past meaning."). Therefore,
those who think that YIQTOLS cannot be used with past meaning in
narratives, need to to have a well reasoned view of what this
WA(YY)-element is, and how it is/has been able to change a YIQTOL into
something completely different. And this is my area of interest.

It seems to me that the following points are correct: (1) There is no
orthographic difference between WAYYIQTOL  and WEYIQTOL in unpointed texts.
(2) Origen did not differentiate between the two. (3) The differences
between WAYYIQTOL  and WEYIQTOL in MT can be reduced to just one difference
which need not have anything to do with tense. -Then I add a point 4) The
WA(YY)-element has no function or property which the simple conjunction WAW
does not have, and this suggests that it is nothing but a conjunction.

Point 4) is my challenge. So,  those who believe that WA(YY) is more than a
bare conjunction: Please show at least one characeristic or function of
WAYYIQTOL which cannot be accounted for if WAYYIQTOL is CONJUNCTION
+YIQTOL.  Time/tense *alone* cannot be used as an explanation as shown


Rolf Furuli
lecturer in Semitic languages
University of Oslo

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