[b-hebrew] Fw: WAYYIQTOL

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Mar 11 10:43:11 EST 2004

On 11/03/2004 06:59, furuli at online.no wrote:

> ...
> As to what today is called WAYYIQTOL, WEYIQTOL and WEQATAL, they 
> carefully followed what they heard in the synagogue as well. Because 
> shewa and patah could be pronounced in a similar, or almost similar 
> way (as an "a" sound), the pronunciation of the first syllable of all 
> three forms could have been the same, or almost the same. But the 
> stress may have been different, because narrative accounts probably 
> would be read in a different way than future and modal accounts.  The 
> Masoretes had at their disposition shewa and patah, which were 
> pronounced similarly. ...

Perhaps we can agree that the Masoretes did hear and faithfully record a 
slight distinction between WAYYIQTOL and WEYIQTOL, maybe a distinction 
of rhythm more than of vowel quality. Patah, a full vowel, in a syllable 
closed by dagesh forte is likely to be significantly longer than the 
half-vowel sheva, and it can carry the secondary stress (which is quite 
often marked by meteg under the vav). I wonder if experts on metrical 
phonology could tell us whether this distinction is in fact significant. 
The question of the origin of this distinction is a separate one, but I 
don't think it was the Masoretes' invention.

> ... But in time, grammarians read into the Masoretic pointing 
> something that was not intended by the Masoretes themselves, ...

I accept "not intended" in the sense that the Masoretes had no specific 
intentions concerning grammar. It wasn't that they intended something 
else at the grammar level. They had no more grammatical intentions than 
a tape recorder.

> ... and the four-component model was born. So these later grammarians 
> are the real inventors of the new grammatical theories that Hebrew has 
> four conjugations, ...

The later grammarians did not invent the data, which came via the 
Masoretes from the oral tradition. Their theories are well founded on a 
good body of data, although it is of course right to review their 
theories as you have done.

> while the Masoretes were the ones who invented the graphical 
> difference between verbs, ...

No, they converted an oral difference into a graphical difference.

> ... which made it logical to distinguish between four, or rather five 
> (WEYIQTOL  as well) groups of verbs.

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

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