Hebrew Syntax.

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Wed Apr 10 17:53:00 EDT 2002

Well, Rolf, it seems that you accept discourse analysis as evidence of
how forms are used. But if this evidence "can tell us nothing about the
meaning of YIQTOL, QATAL, WAYYIQTOL, and WEQATAL", what can tell us
about their meaning? We have no evidence other than the text. So either
we have to learn about the meaning from the patterns we find in the
text, or we have to conclude that we can have no idea what the text


You then go on to invite me to reanalyse the text based on an assumption
of the results of that analysis. In particular you insist that they
assume that "the prefixed WAWs are just conjunctions", although past
studies have demonstrated that these prefixed WAWs have specific
discourse functions. That is methodologically untenable. I agree that
analysts should not assume the four conjugation model either. But they
should work with the real data which they find in the text and not with
presuppositions forced on them.


Peter Kirk



-----Original Message-----
From: Rolf Furuli [mailto:furuli at online.no] 
Sent: 10 April 2002 21:52
To: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: RE: Hebrew Syntax.




But I am very much concerned with the application of discourse analysis
in areas where it does not belong, particularly as respects the
*meaning* of the parts of the Hebrew verbal system. Discourse analysis
is a descriptive method and not a normative one. It can tell us nothing
about the meaning of YIQTOL, QATAL, WAYYIQTOL, and WEQATAL. It cannot
even tell us if there is a semantic difference between WAYYIQTOL and
YIQTOL,  between QATAL  and WEQATAL. It can only describe the pattern of
the *use* of these forms in prose texts. This pattern is important, and
it is profitable to study it, but we should not behave as if these
patterns could tell us anything about the meaning of verbal forms.


Just make a simple test: Take a part of the book of Samuel or Kings or
another book, skip the usual assumptions that there are four different
conjugations, and assume instead that there are just two (WAYYIQTOL =
YIQTOL and WEQATAL=QATAL) conjugations (and the prefixed WAWs are just
conjunctions). Make your discourse analysis on this basis, and see if
your results will be different.




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