"functional/communicative approach" (was re: vav conversive)

yochanan bitan ButhFam at compuserve.com
Tue Sep 7 07:44:42 EDT 1999

maybe the time could be profitably spent by labelling and outlining
different basic positions on the vav ha-hippux. 
then persons could refer to positions by name/number, saving time, bytes,
smoke and hopefully contributing to clarity.

myron worte:
>According to
>Waltke, the waw-resultative 1) has consecutive force, 2) is conservative
>that it preserves the old short preformative conjugation, and 3) is
>conversive in that it results in a perfective force for the preformative
>conjugation which otherwise has non-perfective force. ...[snip]
>What I tell my students is
>        1) there is no tense in the Hebrew verb, only aspect.
>        2) the waw-consecutive expresses logically or temporally
>        3) due to wide-spread disagreement as to what happens to the
>of an imperfect governed by a waw-consecutive it is best not to press
>aspectual issues in such cases.  What seems clear is that action of the
>following a waw-consecutive is somehow subordinate to the action of the
>preceding verb.

i teach in jerusalem. what i tell my students is:

the tense/aspect/mood system of the biblical hebrew verb is not absolute. 
it does not absolutely mark tense and it does not absolutely mark aspect or
hebrew verbs are simple in the number of their categories (2. 5
'tense/aspect' categories, 4.5 formal communicative categories, counting
participle as 1/2 verb pattern) 
and wide-ranging in their communication functions.

(1) the default reference of the suffix-tense verb is past time.
   it may also express "present perfect", "pluperfect" and performative
   and in proper genre or context can describe events as 
   though they were past/perfective, even though they weren't. [eg. ha-shem
   "the Lord reigns"  past/present-perfect as habitual]

(1/2) the default reference of the participle is present time. its default
word order is [X]-S-V
   it can be used in any temporal context for 
   in-process events. [except 'nofel' which is idiomatically complete :-) ]

(2) the default reference of the prefix-tense verb is future, in which case

    it usually describes a "whole", "simple" event in the future [which is
aspectually 'aoristic/perfective'].
    it may also be used for habitual, modal and repetitive or incomplete
past references, 
   [which is aspectually 'imperfective']. 

(3) functionally, the vav-ha-hippux prefix tense carries the thematic line
of a sentence/narration. 
   semantically,  it is the tense-aspect-mood equivalent of the suffix
tense, i. e. past or perfective. [it arose as     a historical accident
from *yaqtul and is not the descendent of *yaqtulu.] it implies "the next
event in the 
   story" and its default word order is V-x-S-X.

(4) the vav-ha-hippux suffix tense is the semantic tense/aspect/mood
equivalent of the prefix tense, future or    imperfective. functionally, it
carries the thematic line of cohortative, future and past
  description. it implies "the next event in the description". its default
word order is V-x-S-X.

the 2 different vav-ha-hippux forms carry their own tense-aspect and do not
"induce" them from something previous. cf. isaiah 6.1, moabite 4-5, 30, for
immediate "thematic" clauses. cf. jud 13.3 for vav-ha-hippux suffix tense
(future) following simple suffix tense(past).

so above, you have one position outlined. 
you may call it a "functional/communicative" approach with 4.5 formal,
indicative categories. 

significant features: 
a. nuanced tense/aspect (rejects "tense-only" and "aspect only"), 
b. includes the 4 formal MT verb categories, (rejects semantic equivalance
of  veyiqtol=vayyiqtol), 
c. integrates communicative/textlinguistic rationale for vav ha-hippux, 
d. accepts historical *yaqtul/*yaqtulu explanation of origin of vav
e. equates semantics of qatal with vayyiqtol and yiqtol with veqatalTA.

[if someone feels this cramps someone's space, then call it F/C #1, or
Bitan 1.]
it is possibly congruent with what is stated above about W-O'C, though it
moves in different directions from what is not stated above about W-O'C and
is not really congruent with myron #1 and #3 (second sentence). 

for more, cf. Buth, "Functional grammar, Hebrew and Aramaic, an integrated,
textlinguistic approach to syntax", in Bodine, 1995. also, Buth, "Hebrew
verb in current discussions, JOTT 1992.
for internalization and teaching material cf., ulpan le`ivrit miqrait, 2
vol. (+ 3 CD, 11 cassette), yerushalayim, 1999.

braxot leshana tova
randall buth

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list