[b-hebrew] There is Qal Passive stem!!!

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Tue Sep 16 08:23:22 EDT 2003

>===== Original Message From George Athas <gathas at hotkey.net.au> =====
>There does appear to have been a Qal Passive at a very early
>stage of Hebrew. The vestiges of it are seen mostly in the Qal Passive
>participle. However, there are a handful of Qal Passive Perfects and 
>which are usually mistaken for Pual or Hophal forms. There is a short 
>of these in Seow's grammar (2nd Ed), pp.323-24. I'm sure there must be a more
>detailed discussion elsewhere, too.

W&O'C has a pretty good discussion of it, and you should find enough 
bibliography there to go further. I should mention, BTW, that although Jouon 
thinks these forms actually were vocalized properly but happened to come out 
matching the Pual and Hofal identically, most would probably disagree with him 
on this point. The more common notion, that the form had been lost completely 
(apart from some vestigial Gp participles) by the time the Masoretes did their 
work, and that the vocalization tradition consequently treated these forms in 
the Bible as corresponding, known forms, holds more water. Indeed, the Pual 
pft. and Hofal impft. are not the only forms that seem to have been used. The 
main problem is that we don't have much with which to identify the Gp, except 
to suspect its presence where a Dp or Cp appears and no corresponding D or C 
is attested (or if it is attested with the wrong meaning) for the same root. 
Once we start looking for them, though, they're not as uncommon as you might 
think. Indeed, it's debatable whether they're any less frequent than the other 
internal passive stems (Pual, Hofal, etc.).
>The Niphal is strictly speaking not the passive of the Qal; it has just 
>that role in the demise of the Qal Passive. Niphal is passive in sense, but 
>middle/reflexive; it goes beyond a mere passive to the Qal. The true Qal 
>would employ O-class vowels, just like the passive stems of Piel (Pual) and
>Hiphil (Hophal); the use of O-class vowels is a characteristic of passive 
>and the Niphal doesn't follow this rule.

The different status of the Nifal is obvious from its use of a unique prefix. 
But I don't think it's a given that the Gp would have o-class vowels. This is 
part of Jouon's reasoning, and his major support is comparison with Arabic. 
But the Arabic system looks artificially leveled, and we do need to keep in 
mind the possibility that the Aramaic Gp is an older form.

Trevor Peterson

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