[b-hebrew] Fw: WAYYIQTOL

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Mar 11 06:57:07 EST 2004

On 10/03/2004 22:09, George Athas wrote:

>I concur with the possibility of the thesis that the Masoretes invented the
>difference between conventional waw /we-/ and consecutive waw /wa-/. I'm not
>sure of its veracity, but it is certainly plausible.
>The reason for the possibility stems from the necessary difference between
>Imperfect Yiqtol and the Preterite Yiqtol -- a point that cannot be made
>more strongly. The distinction between these two verb types is seen
>primarily in those weak roots which appear shorter in the Preterite than in
>the Imperfect (eg, III-Heh roots). ...

So, George, just to clarify: are you saying that there are in fact two 
different verb forms, as clearly seen with 3-He etc roots, but that 
before the Masoretes these were distinct only in certain verbs? Clearly 
they were written the same in unpointed texts. Are you saying that they 
were also pronounced the same, until the Masoretes? If so, that 
conflicts with the general picture of the Masoretes as careful recorders 
of what they heard. I wonder why they departed so blatantly from their 
regular practice on this one.

Anyway, it seems to me that the distinction between WEYA`ASEH and 
WAYYA`AS is clear, even in the unpointed text, and cannot be explained 
as a purely phonetic matter. I suppose it is just possible that the 
distinction was some kind of "linguistic convention" without semantic 
significance as Rolf suggests (i.e. one form was always used in a past 
context and the other always in non-past but without actually "meaning" 
past or non-past), although I have never heard of such a situation in 
any other language. The usual situation in languages is that a 
distinction of verb forms (which is not free variation) signals a 
semantic distinction, and without further clear evidence I think we can 
reasonably assume that this is true of this distinction.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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