(Fwd) Re: Wayyiqtol - comparative Semitic, morphology, phonolo

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Fri Aug 25 15:01:50 EDT 2000

Randall wrote:
> vayyixtov David,
> >There are four 
> >*syntactic* conjugations that perform different *syntactic* functions.
> >. . .
> >Indeed my basis is function.  Qatal represents real mode with 
> >syntactic connection to the preceding; yiqtol is irreal mode with 
> >syntactic connection; weqatal is irreal mode with syntactic break 
> >and wayyiqtol is real mode with syntactic break.  
> The above is workable. (Of course one may question  whether 'syntactic
> connection' is the right definition. MT: "bereshit bara ..." Is DW arguing
> that 'bara' is connected to 'bereshit' or is it better lingusitically to
> say that bereshit is fronted as a realization of a predication based in
> bara?)

At this point, the former.  The "syntactic connection" involves being 
preceded by a temporal clause.  If we assume that bereshit is 
fronted, the theory still works because at this stage, it says 
nothing about how preceding/syntactically connected material got 
where it is.  I'm not sure what you mean by "a realization of a 
predication based on bara."  In my schema, had bereshit not been 
fronted (or otherwise preceding the bara clause) and the verb was 
first, we would have had a wayyiqtol.

Boy, is that gonna raise some hackles :-)

> It is also a good illustration of how differing linguistic metalanguages
> produce what might sound very different but in fact is very close. The
> above "syntactic functions", two of which mark 'syntactic connection' and
> two of which mark 'syntactic break', are another way of talking about
> syntactic (emic) pragmatic functions. that is, marking "connection" versus
> "non-connection" is a pragmatic choice and is encoded within the
> grammatical structures of the language (=syntax).

I disagree.  I view pragmatics as being at a higher level than the 
clause or simple two-clause relationships; I place these in the 
realm of syntax, whereas pragmatics is more closely related to 
semantics.  This may be quibbling over terms, however.  My chief 
goal is to keep syntax in a separate drawer, so to speak, which is 
why I separate clause-level syntax from both semantics and 

> Defining the details of 'real' verus 'irreal' will get sticky when it
> crosses boundarys. Thus, communicating "they used to water the flocks" will
> be encoded in the "irreal" mode yet it is something that was 'real' and
> already had happened on multiple occasions. One could add a definition to
> these as "non-specific, real event", perhaps re-naming them as
> 'indefinite'.

See Galia Hatav's book for ample justification in calling this type of 
clause, as well as future clauses, modal.  Perhaps "modal" would 
be a better term than "irrealis," and I would not be adverse to using 
it.  The main point is, there is a distinction between indicative, as 
denoted by wayyiqtol and qatal, and non-indicative, denoted by the 
other two.

Dave Washburn
"Éist le glór Dé."

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