[b-hebrew] Re:morpho-syntax, was Proverbs 5:16 - a declaration or a question ?

B. M. Rocine brocine at twcny.rr.com
Fri Dec 31 14:59:38 EST 2004

Dear Harold,

You are still missing my point.  I am saying that it is most unusual for a 
clause with a yiqtol in the first position of the clause to be an unmarked 
interrogative.  I grant the phenomenon the unmarked interrogative in 
numerous other cases, but 1 Sam 11:12 does not have yiqtol in the first 
position of the clause.  It has shmu'el in the first position.

Quoting Gesenius is not really so helpful.  We can quote some authorities 
that read the sentence as a question and some that read it another way. 
Appealing to authorities will leave us with little more alternative in a 
case like this than counting up votes--x authorities for question and y 
authorities for statement.  The existence of an unmarked interrogative in BH 
doesn't prove, of course, that Pro 5:16 is interrogative.  Furthermore, I am 
trying to point out that a sentence with a yiqtol verb form in the first 
position decreases the probability that this particular clause is 
interrogative.  Further-furthermore, I don't see where palgey mayim would be 
a fitting figure for promiscuity.


you wrote:

> HH: There is an unmarked interrogative with a yiqtol form in 1 Sam 11:12. 
> There is a noun subject that precedes it, as it does in some other cases, 
> but I don't see that that is decisive.  GKC #150a lists Prov 5:16 as an 
> interrogative sentence.
>>   Neither does a clause-initial yiqtol favor indicative
>>mood.  The vast majority of clause-initial yiqtols are volitional,
>>preferring the "may" or "let" translation like the KJV uses.  I think
>>context would have to be definite before we would prefer the 
>>of v. 16 as a question.  I will let you decide if you think it is 
> HH: Many linguists consider the interrogative to be a mood.
>>I think the above comment could be the key to understanding the proverb, 
>>but I understand how such a comment can be overlooked.  The comment just 
>>does not register sometimes.  Many students of BH have not been trained to 
>>pay attention to the position of a finite verb within its clause and the 
>>significance of word order.  However, I believe that the ancients were 
>>very sensitive to this syntactical feature, and I suspect it is at least 
>>partly responsible for the likes of Rashi who interpreted Pro 5:16 as 
>>expressing the hope that one's disciples would increase.
>>(I personally find that the context in Pro 5:15ff. is not sufficient to 
>>over-ride the syntax in v. 16.  I believe v. 16 expresses hope: "may your 
>>fountains break forth streetwards, your irrigation canals into the 
>>plazas." I do not find v. 17 to contradict.  I understand that if the 
>>addressee is promiscuous, his issue would emerge from sources that are not 
>>his alone. But v. 16 refers to *his* fountains and *his* canals.  palgey 
>>mayim, in particular, is not an image of unrestrained gushing forth such 
>>as the profligate man would produce. In particular, palgey mayim are 
>>irrrigation ditches that are located carefully and through which the flow 
>>of water is regulated.)
> HH: I accept Gesenius. I cannot search for unmarked questions, but they 
> occur now and then, based on context for the most part.
> Yours,
> Harold Holmyard

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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