QATAL C/RT [Statistics]

yochanan bitan-buth ButhFam at
Tue Aug 1 14:10:03 EDT 2000

Thank you Henry, for pointing out why the broadstrokes of the statistics
are on target for keeping veqatal as a distinct category from qatal. I
would have hoped that that was obvious to all. Rolf can be thanked for the
profiles. VEQATAL and QATAL certainly have inverted profiles.  

henry katav:
>Hmmm, I actually read these statistics differently.  If you say that
>"PAST" and "PERFECT" meanings are the proper province of QATAL, and
>the other meanings are the proper province of WEQATAL, then at most
>((13922-(7450+2605))/13922) or 28% of QATAL forms have "unexpected"
>meanings, while only ((357+55)/6087) or 7% of WEQATAL forms have
>"unexpected" meanings.  In addition, I'm slightly suspicious of an
>aspectually-underdifferentiated "PRESENT" category.  

In addition, you could have added underdifferentiated PAST as an equally
suspicious category. But the investigator decides what boxes to use for
classifying a survey. Boxes that do not reflect the emic system of the
language will create pockets of misplaced data, but the process can still
be useful for showing things like the broad inequality of qatal with

I hope that Hebrew learners on this list will be able to learn to read
their parashot ha-shavuz` vexu' (weekly tora readings etc) and enjoy the
texts without worrying if BHebrew exists or is understood. The language has
never stopped being understood for three thousand years and counting. 
How strongly can this be stated to make it clear? Equating vayyiqtol with
yiqtol/veyiqtol and qatal with veqatal is not Biblical Hebrew but a fictive
language. Stated practically, if a student makes such equations they don't
know Biblical Hebrew will find it difficult to learn BH. I wish that all on
this list can learn BH to the highest levels and with all the evidence
presented have only themselves to blame if they spend too much time on

Of course describing a language is a different and open matter altogether
and changes with linguistic frameworks. Students need to be encouraged to
learn enough of the vocabulary and basic associations to comfortably work
within the texts and hopefully to contribute to Hebrew linguistics in the

Randall Buth

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