[b-hebrew] 998 non-past wyyqtl's, Dave

B. M. Rocine brocine at twcny.rr.com
Wed Dec 1 14:13:59 EST 2004

Hi Dave,

I'm going to try to answer the questions from your post below in one 
continuous missive because I think it is easier for the forum to enjoy.  Let 
me know if I have left any important answers out.

About the meaning of the "meaning" of forms  ;-)    :
In talking about verbal semantics we are talking about the language rules 
native speakers have internalized.  In other words we are talking about 
rules for human behavior.  Human behavior is less mathmatically reliable and 
predictable than the rules by which we understand the orbits of heavenly 

Example:  If a being from another planet observed upstate New York drivers 
through his telescope, he could acurately deduce the meaning of the traffic 
signals and markings--white lines for road boundaries, red lights for stop, 
turn signals predict direction of movement, etc.  The markings and signals 
communicate in a rudimentary way to and between drivers, and the alien can 
learn the code by the 90+% of folks who follow the code 90+% of the time. 
(I am sure the alien would err on one point.  He would be sure that all 
speed signs mean about ten m.p.h. above what they read!)  When a driver, in 
order to go around someone who is waiting to make a left, goes outside the 
white line to get around the stopped car, the white line has not stopped 
*meaning* "here is the edge of the drivable space."  In fact, if an 
learner's permit holder were to drive outside that white line on his New 
York State driver's exam, he would fail the exam for not respecting the 
meaning of the line.  In spite of the meaning of the line, it is a common 
exception for drivers to vere into the shoulder of a road to get by a 
standing car.

Likewise, perhaps wayyiqtols can retain their meaning as sequencers even 
though there are some explainable exceptions and even an occasionally 
unexplainable exception.  Speaking of unexplainable "violations," have you 
ever seen people ignore a traffic marking for no good reason?  It's the 
inevitable chaos that seems inherent to the fallen human race!  ;-)

Take paraphrasing with wayyiqtol as an example of "crossing the white line." 
When a second wayyiqtol paraphrases or is identicle an earlier one, the 
writer and reader's shared world knowledge cooperate with the meaning of the 
wayyiqtol.  Writer and reader know the same event doesn't happen twice. 
Writer and reader both realize we are back-looping with the second wayyiqtol 
to cover the same sequence again.

About the meaning of the wayyiqtol specifically:
I think Hatav has said it as well an anyone.  It's meaning is to create a 
new R-time.  She has found something like 93-95% (I forget exactly)to do so 
in the typical prose corpus.  If she were to add other, most notably poetic, 
texts, I believe she would find nearly as high a percentage.

I don't believe the conclusion that wayyiqtol clauses are the "simple, 
active propositions" of BH quite accounts for the data satisfactorily. 
Critical to me is that the X-Qatal, the wayyiqtol's partner in 
story-telling, is not used as merely the alternative consctruction when the 
writer wants to promote an element to the first position of the clause.  We 
see that the X-qatal is strategically distributed within stories in places 
where context indicates non-sequence.  It makes sense therefore, that 
X-qatal's partner indicates the presence of sequence.

In your below letter, you ask for examples of explainable examples when 
wayyiqtol does not express a sequence.  I'll give them in another post.


You wrote:
> On Monday 29 November 2004 16:15, B. M. Rocine wrote:
>> Hi Dave,
>> Thanks for your good question.  I am always pleased when we discuss
>> specific
>> texts on this forum.  You wrote:
>> > On Sunday 28 November 2004 06:57, B. M. Rocine wrote:
>> >
>> > [snip]
>> >
>> >> Take your example of two wayyiqtols in Jer 51:29.  The consensus among
>> >> the
>> >> five or six modern translators I checked is that the wayyiqtols are
>> >> non-past; they differ on whether to translate them as present or 
>> >> future.
>> >> I
>> >> quickly vote future with you.  I do not, however, think the text is
>> >> evidence that the wayyiqtols are not perfective.  The perfectivity of
>> >> the forms is utilized to explicitly embed sequentiality into the text.
>> >> I think
>> >> translations should use the word *then* or *so*:  "Then the land will
>> >> quake, then it will writhe for the thoughts of YHWH stand against
>> >> Babel."
>> >
>> > Bryan,
>> > Would you insist that they use the word "then" or "so" in Judges 
>> > 12:9-14
>> > as
>> > well?
>> >
>> > --
>> > Dave Washburn
>> I suppose we might use "then," but I surely wouldn't insist on it or even
>> recommend it in all cases in the passage.
> That's good, considering the mess it would cause :-)  Starting in v.8, we
> would have "Ibzan...judged Israel...then he had thirty sons and daughters,
> then he married them all off, then he judged Israel [again!]...Elon 
> judged,
> then he judged [huh?]...Abdon judged, then he had 40 sons, then he judged 
> [he
> must have been exhausted by the time he reached this second judgeship!]"
>> I think you may be asking whether I think wyyqtl always represents a
>> sequence.  I do not, but I still the best explanation of the form is that
>> it *means* sequence.  I do *not* think the meaning of a form is only that
>> which is uncancelable.  Such a standard does not allow for the chaos 
>> which
>> is bound to be evident in language use.  So I can tolerate a fair handful
>> of exceptions to a verb form's meaning, especially if they are 
>> distributed
>> in a regular manner (patterned chaos?  oy vey, have patience with me!).
> You correctly discern my real question.  Based on this paragraph, I'm not 
> sure
> what your definition of "meaning" is.  I don't want to do a Clinton here, 
> but
> it seems to me that you're defining "means" in a somewhat different way 
> than
> several others here do.  So I could do with some clarification so I can
> follow you correctly.  If "meaning" is not something uncancelable, what 
> are
> the circumstances in which (by which?) that "meaning" of a form may be
> canceled?  If sequence is encoded in the verb form, how does a speaker or
> writer get around that?
>If meaning is something other than something encoded
> in the form, what exactly is it, and if it's not a hard-and-fast feature 
> of
> the form, how can we discern that it's there at all?  These sorts of
> questions are at the heart of my research, and I anxiously await your 
> input.
>> Take for instance Jdg 12:11 vayyishpot 'axarav 'et yisra'el 'eylon
>> hazzebuloni vayyishpot 'et yisra'el `eser shanim
>> The same story time is covered twice by two successive wayyiqtol clauses.
>> In other words, stroy time does not move forward as we expect from a 
>> series
>> of wayyiqtols.  It's easily negotiable for the reader though because both
>> clauses have the same kernel witht he same subject.  If we have this 
>> series
>> in English:
>> Sam hit a homer.
>> Bill hit one out of the park.
>> we understand that first Sam hit a homer, and then Bill hit one.  If we
>> have this series:
>> Sam hit a homer.
>> Sam hit one out of the park.
>> we understand that the second clause is elaborating on the first, even
>> though in English story telling, a second clause with a simple past verb
>> usually moves forward story time.  (I am only speaking of English simple
>> past as an analogy.  I am not equating the English simple past with the
>> wayyiqtol, even though both are used as the mainlines of narrative in 
>> their
>> respective languages.)
> So if I follow your reasoning correctly, sequence (at least in the English
> simple clause) is more a semantic and pragmatic matter than a syntactic 
> one,
> since in the first set we have a change of actor and in the second we
> (presumably) don't.  Am I with you so far?
>> I think the majority of the wayyiqtols that do not advance story time may
>> be found in one of the following three categories:
>> 1.  wayyiqtol of 'mr after a wayyiqtol expressing a verbal event, like
>> vayyiqr'a 'el YHVH vayyo'mer...
>> 2.  a second wayyiqtol paraphrases the first, like many times in the 
>> flood
>> narrative.
>> 3.  an identicle wayyiqtol covers the same story time as a previous
>> wayyiqtol.
> We have a reference for 3, Judges 12:11 above.  Could you just toss out 
> one
> for each of the others so we have something more concrete to play with?
>> Such cases do not negate the basic meaning of the wayyiqtol as a 
>> sequencer.
> This is where I get bogged down in the question of what constitutes 
> "meaning"
> and how it may be canceled.  Just to throw a couple of other grammarians 
> into
> the pot, Hatav's view of the wayyiqtol is that it advances R-time.  The
> Judges verse would seem to question that.  Waltke-O'Connor describe the
> wayyiqtol as "usually successive and always subordinate to a preceding
> statement."  F. I. Andersen, in his monograph "The Sentence in Biblical
> Hebrew" way back in 1977, found profuse examples that call this into
> question, particularly his "begin a new line of thought" use.  For that
> matter, Jonah 1:1 might easily contradict this idea, though that one is a
> WYHY, and the verb "to be" behaves in strange and unpredictable ways in 
> every
> language with which I am familiar.  Anyway, my point is that these various
> grammarians have sought to find a solid "meaning" in the form, without 
> real
> success.  So I'm interested to see how you have gotten around this problem
> with your idea of "meaning" (basic or otherwise ;-)
> Looking forward to your response,
> -- 
> Dave Washburn

B. M. Rocine
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13206

ph: 315.437.6744
fx: 315.437.6766 

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