nitial waw

Randall Buth ButhFam at
Sun May 26 16:52:42 EDT 2002

shalom Liz,

Thank you for your email. Your question is your first step towards 
a solution. 

>I joined the Weingreen self-study Hebrew group
>and I've a question. Weingreen is teaching everyone
>that normal BH word order is VSO, so he has
>sentences like Amar HaShem zeh tov.
>Do sentences like that actually appear in the Tanak,
>or  are all such sentences actually wawVSO?
>Are sentences like the above without the waw
>actually grammatical? They feel very strange to me.
>I'm sure they're useful pedagogically tho.

You've put your finger on one of the reasons that students 
with Weingeen often have trouble reading and interpreting
real text. 
The most typical narrative setting would be
(ve) Subject suffix-verb, 
     [[your ex.  veha-shem amar ki tov. . .]]
followed by va ha-hippux clauses. 
     [[your ex.  vayyomer ha-shem amar ki tov. . .]]

  Yes, it is true that Hebrew is VSO, even underlyingly VSO, 
but Weingreen's sentences do not reflect the proper stylistic 
and pragmatic manipulation of that system. 

Bottom line, I've never recommended the book. 
The book is OK for describing morphology to students. Use it for that, 
if you must, while going elsewhere for everything else. 


Randall Buth


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