Diachronic Hebrew wayyiqtol (WAW the conjunction)

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sun Feb 20 07:18:44 EST 2000

Dear Henry,

It is allways pleasant and instructive to read your posts because of your
deep insight in phonology and your clear way of expression. My objections
to your conclusions regarding WAYYIQTOL do not relate to your basic
theoretical framwork or to your method but rather to your assumptions. I
will make my comments below, but let me first outline some basic points?

We agree that WAYYIQTOL is the conjunction WAW plus YIQTOL, but we disagree
as to its meaning. You see the YIQTOL in this form as another YIQTOL
("short") than the freestanding YIQTOL ("long"), and this "short" YIQTOL
goes back to an original past/preterit YAQTUL. I agree that WAYYIQTOL in
verbs where we can see the difference often consists of the short form, but
this is not allways the case. So it seems to me that *modality* is
associated with WAYYIQTOL rather than past tense. This is also suggested by
the fact that there are 119 WAYYIQTOLs with cohortative ending in the
Tanach. There are 696 1st person WAYYIQTOLs in the Tanach, and this means
that 17% of 1st person WAYYIQTOLs take cohortative. There are 50 1st person
WAYYIQTOLs that are apocopated (7%) If we look at all WAYYIQTOLs (14972),
we find that 3919 (26%)  are apocopated

Many forms can neither be apocopated nor take cohortative so the "low"
percentage of apocopated forms does not say that the other verbs does not
go back to a short YIQTOL. Many of the 1st person verbs can neither be
apocopated nor take  cohortative, and therefore we can say that just as the
rule for WAYYIQTOL  generally is that it takes the short YIQTOL, so the
rule for 1st person WAYYIQTOLs is that they take cohortative (or are
apocopated- 17% cohortative+7% apocopated= 24%). How would you explain
this? Does it not speak for the view that *modality* is associated with
WAYYIQTOL, morphologically speaking, rather than past tense? (I reject the
recent suggestion that cohortative is a particle for direction just as
Accadian ventive:)

The number for the DSS are as follows:
607 YIQTOLs with enclitiv WAW
152 of these are apocopated (25%)
28 1st person YIQTOL+WAW
19 1st person YIQTOL+WAW are apocopated (67% - neither of the 9 other 1st
person forms could be apocopated).

Soon I will start my mapping of all the WAYYIQTOLs, but I already know that
there are may examples where the writer could have chosen an apocopated
form but  he chose the long form. How many such examples will your theory
that the YIQTOL of WAYYIQTOL  is a short YIQTOL  going back to a short
preterite, tolerate?
If I find that in 5, or 10 or 20% of the cases did the writer choose the
long form instead of the short form, can your theory still be upheld?

I agree that a short YIQTOL has been used in the Semitic languages with
past reference (but not as a past tense),  but can you prove that *two*
distinct short YIQTOLs once existed, one being a past tense and the other
being a modal form? I believe this is an unfounded assumption, and that
there just has been one form that both could signal modality and could be
used for past (and non-past reference).

>> From: Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no>
>> I do not use as an assumption in my studies that Hebrew has just two
>> conjugations!  But I use two other assumptions: (2) Unpointed
>> manuscripts have priority above pointed ones as better textual
>> witnesses.  So we have to start with the data from the unpointed
>> manuscripts.  Everybody can see that the orthography just
>> distinguishes between two groups of verbs.  But are there more than
>> two?  Those who claim that should prove it, and before this is done,
>> on the basis of orthography I see just two conjugations.  As a
>> matter of fact, there is no indication that the WAW prefixed to
>> YIQTOLs is anything but a conjunction before the Masoretes pointed
>> the text.
>Unfortunately, some important morphological distinctions are simply
>not encoded in the consonantal orthography, due to the nature of the
>consonant-only orthographic system (one semi-random example is the
>contrast between the prepositions k-, l-, and b- followed by a
>definite article vs. k-, l-, and b- followed by a noun not prefixed
>with a definite article).  In such cases, it is fair to assume that
>the Masoretes may have mispointed the contrast incorrectly in some few
>individual forms (since the earlier consonant-only written text did
>not give them any guidance).  However, this does _not_ create any
>particular reasonable presumption that there was originally an
>undifferentiated single form (i.e. a morphological unity) that was
>later artificially differentiated by the Masoretes.  (This might
>perhaps be the case, but if so, it would have to be specifically
>proved in detail, and not vaguely presumed.)

I do not claim (or know) that "originally" there was just one
prefix-conjugation without any difference in short and long forms. But I
take as my point of departure that there are two clearly distinct groups in
the verbal systen of Classical Hebrew, the prefix-group and the
suffix-group. Looking at the prefix-group we find two sub-groups, the short
and the long YIQTOL. I will not call YIQTOLs with cohortative a
conjugation, so the question is whether we should make this distinction for
those YIQTOLs that have "modal" traits,i.e. which are short.

>Of course lamed-he verbs show truncated "short" forms in certain
>categories (often including wayyiqtol, but generally not w at yiqtol)
>even in the consonantal orthography, as pointed out by Peter Kirk:

Of 1217 WEYIQTOLs I found 92 apocopated examples (7,5%) and 138 examples
with cohortative (11.3%). As mentioned above, 26% of the WAYYIQTOLs are
apocopated and 17% of 1st person WAYYIQTOLs take cohortative.

>>> PK: There is of course even in the unpointed text a difference
>>> (apart from the W) between non-jussive YIQTOL and WAYYIQTOL in a
>>> significant minority of verb forms, the difference between long and
>>> short prefix forms.  I think this is found fairly consistently in
>>> all MSS including ancient unpointed ones.  You need to explain this
>>> also.
>>> From: peter_kirk at sil.org
>>> PK: I agree that the WAW's in all cases act as a conjunction. But
>>> that doesn't mean that after the WAW's have been stripped off
>>> -AYYIQTOL and -EYIQTOL mean the same.  Indeed, there is a clear
>>> difference between the context in verse 4 where WEYIQTOLs are
>>> consistently used and in verses 8-9 where WAYYIQTOLs are
>>> consistently used.  I don't know how you can explain how the
>>> Masoretes were able to make this consistent distinction if they
>>> were not actually hearing a difference between WEYIQTOL and
>> Nobody has ever given an explanation based on evidence what these
>> supposed elements "E" and "AY" are, what their origin is, and what
>> their force is.
>The morphemic segmentation of w at yiqtol and wayyiqtol must be w at -yiqtol
>and wa-C-yiqtol, so there are no morphemic elements "@" or "ay".
>(There is an assimilating consonantal element in waCyiqtol whose lack
>of definite phonological features in attested Hebrew makes it
>difficult to trace its exact historical origin, but there's nothing
>especially implausible about this.)
>> WAW is never anything but a conjunction, and that there is no
>> semantic difference between YIQTOL and WAYYIQTOL and between WEQATAL
>> and QATAL.  [...] how can anyone claim that the WAYY-element has a
>> semantic meaning apart from its force as a conjunction?
>Waw is indeed nothing but a conjunction, but it's followed by two
>historically different verb conjugations in w at yiqtol vs. wayyiqtol
>(historically *wa-yaqtulu vs. *wa-C-yaqtul).  So the difference in
>meaning here is not necessarily caused by the absence vs. presence of
>the assimilating consonant (and certainly is not caused by the
>difference between the vowels _sh at wa_ vs.  _pathah._, which merely
>follows automatically phonologically from the absence vs. presence of
>the assimilating consonant, see further below), but instead comes from
>the original contrast in meaning between *yaqtul vs. *yaqtulu.
>I can't say whether the meaning difference between these two
>conjugations was "semantic" in your strict sense of the term (I'm
>simply not qualified to discuss such topics), but I'm not sure that it
>really matters; it's enough to show that *yaqtul forms have a general
>past/"preterite"/perfect pattern of usage in Akkadian, Arabic (the
>pseudo-"jussive" after _lam_) etc. in order to show some basic
>continuity in meaning between reconstructed *yaqtul and Tiberian

Your observations above that we find the same pattern in the different
Semitic languages regarding the use of the short and long prefix-form is
true. But we should remember that the short form is just as much associated
with modality as it is with past reference. We should also remember that
there is no consistency in the use of the short form, as far as past
reference is concerned. Both the short and the long form can be used for
past, present and future. The most pressing question,therefore, is why a
form that has modal characteristics to such a great extent is used with
past reference. An answer to this can illuminate whether the short
imperfect is a modal YIQTOL or whether it is a conjugation  in its own

>> I did not at the outset assume any number of conjugations, but I
>> would ask: How can we know there are more conjugations than the two
>> the orthography (consonants) indicate?
>Leaving aside all considerations of synchronic semantics (which many
>have analyzed somewhat differently than you have done), one answer is:
>detailed diachronic phonological reconstructions, and comparative
>Semitic morphology.

These are fine tools and can give much insight. But they can only give
approximate answers, because each language is different and must be studied
in its own right.

>> neither is it logical to view the short YIQTOL as an independent
>> conjugation of its own.  Looking at the cognate languages, we find
>> that indicative is long and subjunctive is short: The difference in
>> meaning between short and long prefix- forms in the Semitic
>> languages is one of modus, not one of tense or aspect (except
>> possibly in Accadian).  Therefore I think we should speak of just
>> two different conjugations [prefix vs. suffix] that are
>> morphologically different.
>Yes, there are old *yaqtul type jussives as well as old *yaqtul type
>"preterites" (using the word "preterite" as a convenient vague label),
>as you yourself said:

How can we know that there were two *YAQTULs, one being modal and the other
preterite? Can it be that there was just one *YAKTUL which both is modal
and can be used for past reference?

>> short forms are all to a great extent used with past reference, and
>> in addition - all (Ugaritic YQTL is somewhat ambiguous in this
>> respect) are the stems used for modality.
>However "long prefix" forms of the particular shape *yaqtulu are a
>localized innovation within Semitic (when used as an indicative).  (I
>fail to see what specific morphological relevance Ge'ez YENAGGER or
>Akkadian IPARRAS have to *yaqtulu, or to either jussive or preterite
>*yaqtul, other than the extremely vague common resemblance of all
>being so-called "prefix" forms.  I don't want to discuss Ugaritic at
>all, since it's apparently not entirely clear that there's a
>consistent yaqtul vs. yaqtulu morphological contrast, and I'm not
>particularly knowledgable about non-phonological details of Ugaritic.)
>> (2) The short prefix-form is connected with modality (clearly in
>> Hebrew, Aramaic, Accadian, and Ge=B4ez), and no scheme showing how
>> to differentiate between the two, has been constructed.
>The same basic stem shape *yaqtul appears in conjugations with both
>jussive and "preterite" meanings, but in each specific case that I
>know about, there are specific morphological accompaniments that serve
>to distinguish the two (in Akkadian, mood suffixes and prefixes; in
>Hebrew, the prefix waC- attached to most preterite forms).
>> There can be little doubt that the line of demarcation in the verbal
>> systems of the Semitic languages is drawn between
>> prefix-conjugation/suffix-conjugation.
>I think it's likely that the more typical early Semitic situation was
>to have several verb conjugations, all of the "prefix" type but not
>necessarily closely resembling each other in basic stem shape (such as
>Akkadian IPRUS, IPARRAS, and IPTARAS); with the suffix conjugation off
>to one side as a stative semi-nominal thing that was not necessarily
>much of a major player in the overall verbal system.  Then there was
>an innovation in a "north-central" block of languages (i.e. Canaanite,
>Aramaic, and Arabic) in which the only prefix forms that survived
>(i.e. non-preterite *yaqtulu, preterite *yaqtul, and jussive *yaqtul)
>all happened to resemble each other in basic phonological stem shape,
>and the former stative quasi-nominal suffix conjugation became more
>important.  (It may possibly true that the "north central" *yaqtulu
>has some historical connection with the Akkadian subjunctive, but if
>so, it seems to have early detached itself from such an ultimate
>origin to become a separate, mostly indicative, conjunction in the
>"north central" block of languages.)
>Eventually, however, the originally separate prefix conjugations
>became slight morphological variants of one sole basic prefix
>conjugation in these languages (though traces of the original meaning
>differences between the conjugations survived in some cases), so that
>the most important contrast in the verbal system now came to be one of
>suffix conjugation vs. (undifferentiated) prefix conjugation.  But
>this would not originally be the most important contrast in the
>Semitic verbal system, nor the most important contrast in other
>Semitic languages outside the "north-central" block.  Thus I agree
>with Peter:
>>> PK: in Akkadian there is a "short" prefix form (one of the ones
>>> listed as "subjunctive" below) commonly used in what appears to be
>>> narrative, with no clear indication of modality in the context,
>>> just as WAYYIQTOL is used in Hebrew narrative?  If so, I think that
>>> must be a strong argument for a distinction between two prefix
>>> forms going back to proto-Semitic, one of which is "imperfective"
>>> and the other (apart from its modal uses) is something like a
>>> preterit.  You wrote: "There can be little doubt that the line of
>>> demarcation in the verbal systems of the Semitic languages is drawn
>>> between prefix-conjugation/suffix-conjugation."  But to me, this
>>> evidence puts a very large measure of doubt on this statement.
>Actually, there is not much evidence for "long" *yaqtulu as an
>indicative in Proto-Semitic; rather this seems to be a "north-central"
>innovation, as discussed above.  Sometimes the impressive phonological
>and morphological archaism of Arabic can give one the impression that
>the structure of the Arabic verbal system is also conservative, but
>this is not the case (see my earlier post about no living language
>being uniformly historically conservative).  As mentioned above, the
>Arabic qatala perfect likely corresponds to a proto-Semitic stative
>quasi-nominal thing, while if the Arabic yaqtulu imperfect directly
>descends from anything in Proto-Semitic, this was almost certainly
>_not_ indicative.  An original proto-Semitic past indicative only
>survives into Arabic in the restrictive context of the pseudo-jussive
>after _lam_, while no original proto-Semitic non-past indicative seems
>to have survived into Arabic at all (at least not in the
>Grund/Qal/Pa`al binyan).

Your suggestions about Proto-Semitic forms may be true, but how can we
know? There is much conjecture in such reconstructions. I have not reached
any final conclusions regarding a possible connection between modality and
past reference, but I do not exclude the possibility that WAYYIQTOLs are
modal forms, and that the borders for what is viewed as modal in Hebrew is
somewhat different from Germanic languages. You mentioned Accadian
subjunctive, and that is an example of a "mood" that is not a "mood" in the
Germanic sense of the word. It is difficult to find any modal force in
Hebrew cohortative as well; think for instance of the 119 cohortatives
occurring with WAYYIQTOL as mentioned above.

What about the following theory, concentrating of the prefix-form(s):
Protosemitic had one prefix-form that signaled indicative. When modal
expression (with somewhat different borders compared with Germanic
modality) was intended, a short variant was used. This short variant was
often used for past reference as well. Do you know any *data* that excludes
the possibility that one and the same form could be used for modality and
past reference (or that the kind of past reference could be subsumed under
the category modality, just as the Accadian subjunctive U is added to verbs
in conditional, relative, and dependent, subordinate clauses, clauses that
we would say are indicative?)

>> (2) How can WAYYIQTOL be viewed as identical with YIQTOL when it is
>> so different in form?  Answer: Nobody has ever conclusively
>> demonstrated that the WAYY-element change the meaning of the
>> following YIQTOL.  It need not have any semantic meaning.  And even
>> the small difference in vowels *can* be pragmatic.
>> (b) Nobody has shown what the -AY- element of WAYY- is, let alone
>> its supposed power to change the meaning of a verb.  (Henry
>> Churchyard has not conclusively shown that -AY- is an element that
>> can change the meaning of YIQTOL.)
>I didn't prove it, because I don't in fact believe it.  The meaning
>difference does not necessarily have anything to do with the presence
>of the indefinite assimilated consonant of unknown historical origin
>in wa-C-yiqtol, but rather follows from the clear historical
>morphological differences between the -yiqtol in wayyiqtol and
>freestanding yiqtol elsewhere.  It may or may not be the case that the
>somewhat consistent difference in meaning between Hebrew yiqtol and
>wayyiqtol is "semantic" in your special strict sense of the term, but
>it seems like there are a lot of things which are not "semantic" in
>your special strict sense of the term.  I think that if we find a
>difference in external phonological form which rather consistently
>correlates with a difference in meaning (even if this difference is
>not absolutely 100% consistent), then we must call this a
>"morphological" difference in the usual accepted sense of the term.
>For that matter, it appears that English plural morphology is not
>truly "semantic", since it is not "uncancellable" -- if you're "five
>foot two" tall, you're actually five _feet_ two tall, and if there's
>"one scissors" on the table, then there's only one physical object on
>the table (in the sense relevant to English plural morphology).  So
>should we assume that the English noun plural suffix has no particular
>inherent meaning in the true "semantic" sense?  If so, I'm not sure
>how this notion of "semantics" is all that relevant in dealing with
>real-world languages.
>[Rolf Furuli on phonological differentiation of wayyiqtol vs. yiqtol
>and its origins (long quoted passage, sorry):]
>> Coming to the Masoretes, there is still no [consonantal]
>> orthographic difference between the two groups, but there is a
>> difference in pointing.  As to the suffix-group there is no
>> difference in the vowels used, only a minor difference in the
>> stress.  In the prefix group there is a difference in one of the
>> vowels used and regulrarly in the stress.  These data, however, are
>> not unambiguous.  The stress was basically used for musical reasons
>> as a help in the chanting of the text in the Synagogue, and while
>> stress has a phonemic function in differentiating between forms
>> written similarly, but having different meaning, it need not be
>> phonemic in the *clause* (just think of pausal forms).  The
>> difference [between WEYIQTOL and WAYYIQTOL] in MT need not have
>> semantic meaning.  We know that the pausal forms indicate a form of
>> stress that could help those hearing the recitation of the text.
>> The WE and WAYY-element need not be more than a slightly different
>> way of pronouncing YIQTOLs with a prefixed conjuntion to help the
>> hearers differentiate between the same verbs used in narrative and
>> non-narrative texts, without any intention of signaling a *semantic*
>> difference between the forms.  If now the Masoretes heard the two
>> verbs being stressed differently, how would that affect
>> vocalization?  The WEYIQTOL has two open syllables and the last is
>> closed.  It has the normal ultimate stress, and because the closed
>> syllable is stressed, the short patah is OK.  The WAYYIQTOL,
>> however, has penultimate stress, and this would, according to the
>> phonetic laws, demand a different vocalization.  Because of the
>> stress, we either would have expected a pretonic qamets in the first
>> syllable or a patah together with gemination; a shewa in a supposed
>> open first open syllable before the stress, would not be expected.
>> This means, as far as I can see, that a combination of the hearing
>> of penultimate stress in the synagogue, and the phonetic laws
>> applied by the Masoretes (I leave alone those verbs that can be
>> apocopated), can account for all the differences between WAYYOMER
>> and W:YOMAR in (1).  If this is true, there need not be an extra
>> element in addition to WAW in any of the WAYYIQTOLs with stable
>> roots.  But what is the basis of the supposed difference in stress
>> in the Synagogues of Masoretic times.  Following this line, it would
>> not be unreasonable when two forms with similar morhology but
>> different use are found, to stress them differently.  Particularly
>> when the text for the most part was read aloud, this would be a help
>> for the listeners.  The penultimate stress of the WAYYIQTOLs would
>> from this point of view fit the more staccato narrative recitation,
>> while the normal ultimate stress would fit direct speech,
>> future/modality better.  Just as pausal stress has no phonemic
>> meaning, so the penultimate stress of the WAYYIQTOLs need not have
>> any phonmic meaning.  The ultimate stress of some WEQATALs could be
>> explained the same way.  A hypothesis, which I am going to test, is
>> that the difference is primarily based on rhytm or stress, and this
>> again is related to the genre of the text and the meaning of
>> clauses.  The pausal forms.  for instance, signal a particular
>> stress the end of sentences.  To find the right rhytm in narrative
>> accounts, one device could have been a retraction of the stress of
>> the sentence-initial verb, thus the WAYYIQTOL was born.  My
>> suggestion, therefore, is very simple.  In the unpointed texts (and
>> in the reading of them) before the Masoretes, there was no
>> difference in the stress of finite verbs with proclitic WAW.  In our
>> Christian era when Hebrew gradually lost its position as a living
>> spoken language and only few people spoke it - in a world dominated
>> by Aramaic and Arabic - to help those listening to the recitation of
>> the Hebrew text in the Synagogue, the stress pattern we know was
>> introduced.  There was no grammatical reason for this, only the
>> intention to help the listeners to understand the text better.  The
>> Masoretes followed this stress pattern with the consequences we know
>> - also without any grammatical intentions.  As a matter of fact
>> there is no distinction between WAYYIQTOLs and WEYIQTOLs in
>> unpointed texts.  The first time the distinction appears is in the
>> MT.  This means that at a point of time after the texts were
>> writtten and latest at the appearance of the Masoretes, the
>> distinction between WEYIQTOL and WAYYIQTOL was made, either in
>> pronunciation or in script (I guess there had been a difference in
>> stress in the recitation of the text in the synagogue for a long
>> time before the Masoretes.  But on which basis was the
>> differentiation made?
>Rolf, I don't think you would accept this kind of vague "naive
>functionalism" or "just so story" explanation in your own domain of
>syntax/semantics, so why should it turn out to be more acceptable in
>phonology?  If you examine Hebrew main-stress positioning from a
>strictly phonological point of view, you see that there's a highly
>structured and patterned system of determining stress placement, with
>certain residual exceptions in a minority of cases.  For instance, it
>can be said that most forms in Tiberian Hebrew (i.e. those not subject
>to special synchronic stress shifts) show main stress on the
>penultimate syllable in forms that have a synchronic underlying shape
>which is consonant-final, but final-syllable stress in underlyingly
>consonant-final forms.  Having established this generalization, one
>can then go on to examine the apparent exceptions to the pattern
>(which turn out to be highly significant for the reconstruction of the
>verb system); but one wouldn't even be able to see the basic pattern
>without conducting a serious specific analysis of the phonological
>data in terms of sophisticated phonological theory (where the patterns
>and their changes through time can't be analyzed very clearly without
>recognizing concepts such as "synchronic underlying forms" and
>"synchronic stress-shifts").
>One of the significant exceptions to the basic Tiberian
>stress-positioning generalization is the wayyiqtol (in attested
>Tiberian Hebrew such anomalous stress is mainly confined to roots
>which are weak in some respect, but with residual evidence that this
>anomalous wayyiqtol stress originally applied to strong roots also).
>If you probe this Tiberian wayyiqtol stress anomaly further, using the
>tools of historical phonology and language reconstruction, it becomes
>clear that such anomalous stress indicates that Tiberian wayyiqtol
>goes straight back to consonant-final *yaqtul, while Tiberian regular
>yiqtol goes straight back to original vowel-final *yaqtulu (this is
>the main argument of chapter 4 of my dissertation, though in that
>chapter I found it more convenient to adopt an order of presentation
>which seems to trace things forward in time, instead of appearing to
>deduce reconstructions backwards in time).
>My historical phonological account can be refuted be showing that my
>reconstructions are wrong in specific historical phonological details;
>but it cannot be refuted by a semantic-only analysis of synchronic
>Tiberian verb forms (no matter how intense), nor by a vague "naive
>functionalism" phonological explanation which does not take into
>account the full richness and complexity of patterning of the detailed
>phonological alternations.
>It is true that Tiberian Hebrew pausal forms do have a limited
>"functional" value in marking words at the end of phonological
>phrases.  But the specific phonological patterns governing the
>distribution of pausal stress-alternations are the same for stress
>alternations which involve the "conversive tenses" as for stress
>alternations which do not involve the "conversive tenses".  No one has
>claimed that the alternation between pausal [yiqtooluu] and non-pausal
>[yiqt at luu] was caused by semantic factors, so it is not clear why the
>wayyiqtol stress-shift should have a semantic origin.  (It is true
>that the w at qatalta stress-shift may have arisen analogically on the
>model of the wayyiqtol stress-shift, but this is a case of
>highly-specific phonological/morphological analogy from one
>stress-alternation pattern to another, not an extremely vague theory
>of semantics manifesting itself directly into phonology.)

I appreciate your comments on phonology where you are an expert. At present
I am busy with the mapping of the different verb forms, but in the future I
will study the reasons for Masoretic pointing, and I will make full use of
your detailed and interesting thesis.

>> (2) How can WAYYIQTOL be viewed as identical with YIQTOL when it is
>> so different in form?  Answer: In unpointed texts the difference is
>> minimal and it is not demonstrated any morphological difference
>> before the Masoretes.  Evidence from Josephus and Origen, and from
>> the Masoretes themselves suggest that shewa was generally pronounced
>> by an "a"-sound just as patah, but shewa could also be colored by
>> other vowels.  If the intention was to distinguish between two
>> different conjugations (WAYYIQTOL and WEYIQTOL) by help of the
>> vocalization, shewa versus patah were the worst possible choice,
>> because of their similarity. We therefore do not have any indication
>> that the timbre of shewa and patah in the two verbs of (1) was
>> different.
>It's true that there's basically absolutely no difference whatsoever
>in the Tiberian system between a _sh at wa_ grapheme (under a
>non-guttural consonant letter) representing a vocal _sh at wa_ sound, and
>a _h.at.eph-pathah._ grapheme (under a non-guttural consonant letter)
>representing a vocal _sh at wa_ sound (the latter is simply a slightly
>less ambiguous orthography for writing the same thing).
>But on the other hand, there's quite a bit of phonological difference
>between _sh at wa_ in an open syllable and _pathah._ in a closed
>syllable, so I can't see how your statement that there is no effective
>phonological difference between [w at yiqtol] and [wayyiqtol] makes too
>much sense, regardless of whether Josephus or Origen consistently
>transcribed them differently into Greek.  The idea of a "reversible"
>phonological transliteration (which renders one writing system into
>another writing system without loss of information) was basically
>unknown to the ancient world; nor was the Greek alphabet particularly
>suited to such a reversible transcription; nor can you say that early
>Greek transcriptions transcribe the same dialect which underlies the
>Masoretic orthography (in fact there are clear divergences, in a more
>archaic phonological shape of unsuffixed segholate nouns, and other
>differences).  This means that while these types of external
>transcriptions are useful as a cross-check in certain cases (i.e. to
>show that certain features of the Tiberian pointing do or do not have
>a solid historical basis), they are basically useless for trying to
>"prove" that phonological oppositions that appear to be significant in
>Tiberian were in fact phonologically significant in Tiberian.  (Going
>down this path was what led Sperber to conclude that Tiberian Hebrew
>had 2 and 1/2 vowels and 10 consonants, or something, and I don't
>think you want to follow him there.)
>Nor is it true that the -a- vowel in wayyiqtol is in the least
>mysterious, or in need of any particular special explanation.  This is
>simply the normal original short "a" vowel of the conjunction, which
>was diachronically *wa- (as in Arabic), and which in Tiberian Hebrew
>is still often waa- with lengthened vowel (as in [waabhoohuu] in
>Genesis 1:1 on down).  Such a historical short -a- vowel regularly
>becomes Tiberian _pathah._ in closed pre-main-stress syllables, and
>either Tiberian _sh at wa_ or Tiberian _qames._ in open pre-main-stress
>syllables, by normal diachronic phonological developments.  (The
>conjunction does not generally take on the shape wa- in Tiberian
>elsewhere than in the wayyiqtol -- except when preceding a guttural +
>_hat.eph-pathah._ sequence -- because the conjunction is not generally
>followed by a geminate or a true consonant cluster elsewhere.)
>> One interesting question is: Why do we find a great number of plene
>> vowels in the DSS, but a supposed distinction between WAYYIQTOL and
>> WEYIQTOL is never expressed by plene vowels?
>Were short -a- vowels in closed unstressed syllables ever written
>_plene_ in the Dead Sea scrolls (I would be surprised if this were
>true)?  If not, then I'm not clear what distinctions between wayyiqtol
>and w at yiqtol forms (from non-_lamedh-he_ roots) that you would expect
>to be notated in Dead Sea Scroll orthography.  It's not clear to me
>that either the closed syllable shortening or stress position
>differences in such forms [wayyaaqom] vs. [yaaqoom] would have been
>orthographically noted either.  It is interesting that the Dead Sea
>Scroll orthography doesn't show certain types of vowel reduction (so
>that both Tiberian [yiqt at luu] and [yiqtooluu] can be written with an
>orthographic _waw_, indicating that whether or not pausal stress
>alternations existed in DSS pronunciation, vowel reduction didn't
>exist in its Tiberian form); however, I'm not sure that this implies
>anything for wayyiqtol's in DSS.
>> (1) No procedure for distinguishing between the conjunction WE
>> prefixed to a YIQTOL and the WE- element of WEYIQTOL has been worked
>> out.
>It's true that there's no strictly phonological evidence for w at yiqtol
>as a separate conjugation (as there is synchronic phonological
>evidence for the contrast between the [yiqtol] forms in wayyiqtol
>vs. w at yiqtol having separate diachronic origins), so that any attempt
>to prove the distinctness of a w at yiqtol conjugation is not bolstered
>by phonological evidence.
>Galia Hatav wrote:
>>> Last Spring I suggested that <wayyiqtol> is composed of three
>>> elements: <w>, <ay> and <yiqtol>.  The form of <yiqtol> I analyzed
>>> in my book as modal in the sense of modal logic, i.e., a clause
>>> with a verb in this form quantifies over possible worlds.  The
>>> morpheme <ay>, I suggested last spring, functions to anchor the
>>> situation to the Actual World. It does the same job as a definite
>>> article does for noun phrases.  The question is, whether the
>>> definite article for NPs is only an analogy to the <ay> in
>>> <wayyiqtol>, or as you (and other people) suggested, that actually
>>> the <ay> is a derivation of the definite article.
>From morphological and phonological considerations, there can be no
>-ay- morpheme here; whether the waC- in wayyiqtol was contracted from
>wa-haC-yiqtol is a speculation which cannot be easily proved or
>disproved.  However, what there is detailed evidence available to show
>(as I've said), is that the -yiqtol in wayyiqtol is not the "same" as
>free-standing yiqtol.  In that light, explaining the meaning
>difference between wayyiqtol and yiqtol as due to the unknown
>assimilating consonant in wa-C-yiqtol is somewhat redundant...
>Though I can't claim to know that suffixing an article between
>conjunction and short yaqtul would have been definitely
>morphologically impossible, this explanation doesn't really "explain"
>very much even phonologically, since we don't know the identity of the
>assimilating consonant of the article, so that the hypothesis
>wa-haC-yiqtol > waC-yiqtol > wayyiqtol still doesn't tell us what the
>"C" was, or what its original morphological function (if any) was.
>> When we consider this example, we should keep in mind that although
>> we speak about an -AY- element in WAYYIQTOL, this is only
>> descriptive. There is of course no such element existent, but the
>> characteristic is *gemination* in 3. person forms and *compensatory
>> lengthening* in 1 person.  singualar.
>Yes, there is of course no morphological "y" element in way- prefixed
>to wayyiqtol; rather, there is an indeterminate consonant which
>assimilates to the following consonant to form a geminate (as also in
>the definite article).
>>> Subject: More ?'s about verbs
>>> From: "Rodney K. Duke" <dukerk at appstate.edu>
>>> Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2000 12:45:17 -0500
>>> 2) What then, if the conjunction found with wayyiqtol is some kind
>>> of narrative conjunction that is distinct from the conjunction of
>>> simple waw?  Is there any comparative philological evidence that
>>> might support such a thesis?  (I've seen a little about the Arabic
>>> =93fa,=94 but don't know how much weight it carries.)
>I agree with Rolf Furuli (rather than Dave Washburn) that wa- in
>wayyiqtol is very likely to be the ordinary conjunction (one of the
>most important indications of this comes from diachronic phonology,
>namely the immunity from the normal historical word-initial #w- -> #y-
>shift that both the conjunction and waC- suspiciously share).  Again,
>the real answer is to be found in the fact that -yiqtol in wayyiqtol
>is not in fact the "same" yiqtol as other yiqtol.  When only
>considering a schematic overview of the synchronic Tiberian Biblical
>Hebrew system, this may seem counterintuitive, but a detailed analysis
>of phonology, and comparisons with other Semitic languages, support
>this conclusion.  So I stand by what I posted earlier to this list:
>   ...Despite various doubts and alternative hypotheses that have been
>   raised over the past century and more, the most likely historical
>   origin of the Biblical Hebrew wayyiqtol is still conjunction wa- +
>   assimilating consonant + yaqtul preterite tense.  (This pretty much
>   remains the default theory -- despite certain long-standing
>   unanswered question connected with it -- so that someone proposing
>   a different account of the historical origins of the Hebrew
>   wayyiqtol would have to support it with highly specific evidence to
>   gain very widespread acceptance.)
>>> Is there a form of the conjunction (i.e. waw with or without an
>>> a-class vowel) that could explain:
>>> wa+ *yaqtula evolving into weyiqtol (propretonic reduction?), and
>>> wa + *yaqtul (preterite) evolving into wayyiqtol?
>No, there's not really any purely phonological explanation for such
>consonant gemination.  Sometimes rather than an original short *u
>vowel undergoing pretonic lengthening, the following consonant will
>geminate instead; but this is rather rare with original short *a
>vowels.  (It's true, though, that the vowel lengthening in
>1st. sg. [waa'eqtool] theoretically might be explained as due to
>pretonic lengthening before the originally main-stressed middle
>syllable; however, there are also other, probably more valid,
>alternative explanations available for deriving the lengthened vowel
>>> 3) I realize that the morphological difference between the short and
>>> long prefixed conjugations disappeared by 1100 BCE; however R. Buth
>>> on this list and others argue for the continued existence of the
>>> preterite.
>Original word-final short vowels disappeared around 1100 BC, so that
>the original difference between "preterite" yaqtulu and "imperfect"
>yaqtul would then no longer be marked by contrasts in suffixal
>morphology in most cases; however, this doesn't mean that all contrast
>between "preterite" and "imperfect" immediately collapsed.
>Henry Churchyard   churchh at usa.net   http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/



Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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