Hebrew Syntax.

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sun Apr 14 02:45:06 EDT 2002


Dear Peter,

As I have written, I admire Alviero Niccacci for his consistency and 
that he does not refer difficult examples to "exceptions" but always 
try to explain them in accordance with this model. However, his 
grammar ("The syntax of the Verb in Classical Hebrew", 1990) and the 
other Hebrew grammar which is based upon the discourse principles of 
Harald Weinreich,namely, W Schneider (1974) "Grammatik des biblischen 
Hebräisch" presuppose that there are four or five finite 
conjugations. So my reference to such presuppositions are hardly 
misunderstandings, as far as these basic grammatical books are 
concerned.

Please look at the chapter by R.E. Longacre "Discourse Perspective on 
the Hebrew verb: Affirmation and Restatement" in W.R. Bodine 
"Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew" (1992) Winona Lake: Bisenbrauns. 
Says Longacre regarding WAYYIQTOL (1) and QATAL (2):

(1)"Since this form is historically descended from an archaic 
preterite, I simply call it  a preterite... the tense form expresses 
sequential actions in the past (and is viewed as punctiliar)...

(2)The perfect in Biblical Hebrew acts like a secondary storyline. It 
is only weakly sequential and not necessarily punctiliar." (P. 178)

The words above reflect definite presuppositions. Whereas Lonacre's 
general description of the function of the forms is true in a great 
part of the text, his presuppositions are misleading. There is no 
evidence that WAYYIQTOL  descended from an old preterite, just pure 
speculation, and punctiliarity is an Aktionsart characteristic and 
not an aspectual one.

According to your words you engage in discourse analysis without the 
traditional presuppositions, and that is fine, but of course, all of 
us make assumptions. So I ask: What kind of meaningful results can we 
get from discourse analysis (the way you do it) without taking a 
stand for (or at least following a working hypothesis) whether Hebrew 
has two, or four, or five conjugations? How can your discourse 
analysis throw light on the meaning of Hebrew verbs?



Regards Rolf

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo






>Rolf, I come with the observation that there are prefix forms and 
>suffix forms, that the latter have a variety of shorter and longer 
>forms, that some of these forms are prefixed with a simple WAW 
>(which I do not define a priori to be a conjunction), and that some 
>(at least in the Masoretic pointing, which needs to be evaluated 
>separately) are prefixed with WAW, patah and doubling of the initial 
>consonant. No one can claim to come with no presuppositions, but I 
>am open to recognize those presuppositions (when pointed out e.g. by 
>you) and attempt to work around them. But I rule nothing out a 
>priori.
>
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>
>Peter Kirk
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>-----Original Message-----
>From: Rolf Furuli [mailto:furuli at online.no]
>Sent: 12 April 2002 12:34
>To: Biblical Hebrew
>Subject: RE: Hebrew Syntax.
>
>
>
>Dear Peter,
>
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>
>
>Three simple questions in order for me to better understand you: 
>When you enagage in discourse analysis, do you presume that there 
>are four different conjugations in  Hebrew (YIQTOL, QATAL, WAYYIQTOL 
>and WEQATAL)? Or do you start with the observation that Hebrew has 
>prefix-forms and and suffix-forms, and some of each group are 
>prefixed by the conjunction WAW? Or are you saying that you have no 
>presuppositions at all?
>
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>Regards
>
>
>
>Rolf
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>Rolf Furuli
>
>University of Oslo
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>>Rolf, you have shown here that you totally misunderstand both 
>>discourse analysis and proper scientific procedure. I don't think 
>>DA assumes a priori that these WAWs have different functions. I 
>>certainly do not and have explicitly rejected this view. We are 
>>open to both possibilities, either all WAWs have the same meaning 
>>or there are two or more different meanings. We note that (speaking 
>>generally) even the identical form can have different meanings 
>>and/or discourse functions in different contexts, and also we note 
>>a difference of form here which may or may not be significant. So 
>>we do not assume a priori that even the same form (let alone 
>>different forms) must always have the same meaning. This seems to 
>>be your a priori assumption concerning the prefix WAW. You insist 
>>that everyone else follows this a priori assumption. You neither 
>>yourself examine nor allow other to examine the evidence that WAW 
>>has different meanings in different contexts. This is unscientific, 
>>and as a result your whole dissertation, despite its promising 
>>introduction, is fatally flawed. Yes, Rolf, I know those are strong 
>>words. I invite anyone else on this list to tell me if they judge 
>>them unjustified.
>>
>>
>>
>>You assert that "if the WAW prefixed to a verb "has a specific 
>>discourse function" this should be true in ALL instances where the 
>>WAW is prefixed to the verb". But this is your assertion and not 
>>mine; rather, I suggest that WAW is polysemous or at least has a 
>>range or shades of meaning. My method would at least in principle 
>>allow that even in WAYYIQTOL forms the WAW may have various 
>>different meanings, including a simple conjunction as well as 
>>perhaps various different discourse functions. So my method cannot 
>>be attacked by your demonstrations that not all WAYYIQTOLs have the 
>>same meaning or place in the discourse. Anyway, your specific 
>>examples demonstrate your ignorance of how these verses would be 
>>understood in discourse analysis. In Zechariah 10:3 your "little 
>>doubt that the temporal reference for all the verbs is future" is 
>>not shared by almost all of the English versions on my shelf: KJV, 
>>English RV, Ferrar Fenton, RSV, NRSV, JPS Tanakh, and NLT (Only NIV 
>>and TEV translate the last three verbs as all future, as does LXX) 
>>and so your whole argument is based on an assertion without 
>>evidence.
>>
>>
>>
>>Peter Kirk
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>>
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