Biblical Hebrew Syntax

Rolf Furuli furuli at
Fri Apr 6 11:42:45 EDT 2001

Dear Henry,

Your dissertation is a work of high scholarly quality, and given your model
and your assumptions, your conclusions are very strong. But I doubt that
some of your assumptions hold, and therefore I have a different view of the
verbal system of Classical Hebrew. I am not defending any particular view
regarding the relationship between the Semitic languages, but the point
that I stressed in my first post in this thread, was that we know nothing
definite regarding the period, say, before 1000 B.C.E. So when someone
takes for granted that a particular relationship is *true* (e.g. Hebrew
QATAL stems from Accadian stative), it is fine that someone corrects this.

We do not know whether the linguistic roots of Classical Hebrew or Aramaic
are older than the roots of Accadian, and therefore we can know nothing
about the relationship between the languages. To put the case upside down:
Which data can be pointed to to counter a view that Accadian stative is
rooted in an early Hebrew or Canaanite QATAL? I am not saying that this is
the case, but which data excludes it?

>> But even if we make a morphologic comparison, there are several
>> problems.  If we compare Ge'ez with Accadian, we find two
>> prefix-forms in each language (in Addition to the prefix-infixform
>> perfect in Accadian).  The long prefix-form in both languages is
>> believed to have present/future meaning
>Actually Akkadian has at least four different conjugations with
>non-stative-suffix type morphology: in the Grund/Qal binyan
>(exemplifying with root P-R-S), there is present _iparras_, perfect
>_iptaras_, past _iprus_, and modal _liprus_ etc.  Here _iparras_ and
>_iptaras_ are not relevant for direct comparison with Hebrew verbal
>forms -- and positing some kind of abstract schematic parallelism of
>the distinction between "long" Akkadian IPARRAS and "short" Akkadian
>IPRUS with the distinction between "long" Northwest Semitic YAQTULU
>and "short" Northwest Semitic YAQTUL is just not valid in comparative
>Semitic terms.  (Akkadian IPARRAS is simply not cognate to Northwest
>Semitic YAQTULU, and Northwest Semitic "long" forms are long because
>they have long endings, while if one chooses to call any ordinary
>non-ventive Akkadian forms "long", it will be because of stem-shape,
>not different verb endings -- so there is no real general
>cross-linguistic "long" vs. "short" distinction shared between
>Akkadian and Northwest Semitic which is valid in any diachronic or
>comparative-Semitic way.)

 According to your study, does Ge'ez YINGER come from Accadian IPRUS,
Ge'ez YENAGGER  from Accadian IPARRAS, and Ge'ez peerfect from Accadian

>Henry Churchyard   churchh at



Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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