discourse and aspect

Rodney K. Duke dukerk at appstate.edu
Thu Dec 20 15:48:49 EST 2001

Dear List Members (particularly those interested in discourse analysis),

Now that the semester has wound down, I can post a question.  But, is
anyone out there?

Is seems to me, as I try to analyze passages according to a discourse
approach, that I find dissimilar forms used to express a complete
thought or action.  (See examples below.)

Historical Narrative
Gen 1:5
Wayyiqtol (mainline): “And God called the light day”
X-qatal (offline, but completes thought): “and/but the darkness he
called night.”

Gen 4:2 b,c
wayyiqtol (mainline) “And it happened that Abel was and shepherd of a
X-qatal (offline, but completes thought) “but Cain was a tiller of the

Gen 4:3b-4a
wayyiqtol (mainline) “And Cain brought. . .”
x-qatal (offline but completes thought) “and/but Abel brought. . .”

Predictive Discourse
Gen 17:4b-5
weqatal (mainline) “And you will become a father . . .”
lo-yiqtol (offline) “And ‘Abram’ will not again be called your name”
weqatal (not back to mainline, but completes offline thought), “and/but
your name will be called Abraham.”

Expository discourse (here, as intro to historical narrative)
Gen 2:5b-6
Verbless (mainline) “And there was not yet man to work the ground”
x-yiqtol (offline) “And a mist went up from the land”
weqatal (offline but completes thought) “and it watered the whole face
of the ground”

In these examples both sets of verbs, with different forms, SEEM to have
the same aspect and tense.  Here is the question that arises for me:
Does any theory of aspect based on verb forms hold up in these cases?
If so, which one(s).  Please show me.

Has anyone done work on such complementing couplets?

Thanks in advance for your observations and feedback.

Dr. Rodney K. Duke
Dept. of Phil. & Rel., Appalachian State Univ., Boone, NC 28608
(O) 828-262-3091, (FAX) 828-262-6619, dukerk at appstate.edu

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