yqtl patterns and Anson Rainey

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Thu Jun 14 09:39:26 EDT 2001


Brian Tucker wrote,


>Do you agree that Anson Rainey has been able to show that in Northwest
>Semitic languages the prefix forms (yqtl) expressed tenses rather than
>aspects?
>
>Rainey. The Prefix Conjugation Patterns of Early Northwest Semitic, in
>Abush, Z. et al. (eds.), Lingering Over Words, Atlanta, Georgia, pp.
>407-420).
>_____. Canaanite in the Amarna Tablets, a Linguistic Analysis of the Mixed
>Dialect Used by the Scribes from Canaan, vol. 2, pp. 221-264).
>
>
>Rainey sees two modes, the indicative (including preterite, imperfect, and
>energic forms) and the injunctive (including jussive, volitive, and
>energic forms).
>
>What do you think? Is this a good and helpful approach to BH verbal
>system?


Dear Brian,

I agree with Randall's words that "Rainey knows Hebrew inside and out in
its various stages. His approach is certainly "good and helpful" and among
the best in print."

I do, however, see two basic weaknesses in his approach, and the same
weaknesses are evident in Randal's and other scholar's approach:

1) There is no systematic differentiation between past tense and past time,
and no theoretical framwork by which one can distinguish between the two.

2) The term "aspect" is used either in a loose and unspecific way (many
authors have never analysed this term and do not bring a clear definition
of the differences between the aspects), or it is used in a specific way
which fits English but not Hebrew.

Conclusion: Rainey's data deserve a close study, but his approach is
hopeless. To get good results, one first needs to address the two points
above.



Regards

Rolf


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo





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