Biblical Hebrew Syntax

Dave Washburn dwashbur at
Wed Apr 4 10:18:10 EDT 2001

> I suppose "compelling" is too subjective a category to address here. But I
> would think that the existence in both Akkadian and Hebrew of a short
> prefixal form and a long prefixal form, combined with the fairly
> comparable distributions (that the short form is used to narrate past
> events, while the long form is used to show non-past or modal action),
> constitutes at least some sort of evidence. I'll freely admit that I'm not
> all that familiar with the actual arguments for the connection. (It's
> usually been presented to me as a more or less accepted conclusion.) But
> it does seem to explain a good portion of the evidence.

This pattern is by no means clear; as you hinted, it's pretty much 
of an assumption.  I have argued in print that the so-called "short 
form" visible in the wayyiqtol is the result of phonetic conditioning, 
rather than being a remnant of an older short form. This points up 
the chief problem here: the evidence can be interpreted several 
different ways, and no one approach has cornered the market on 
descriptive adequacy.  The two-prefix-conjugation hypothesis may 
be the dominant one at the moment (though I'm not totally sure 
about that), but it's nothing more than a hypothesis.

Dave Washburn
"You just keep thinking, Butch.  That's what you're good at."

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list