[b-hebrew] Fw: WAYYIQTOL

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Thu Mar 11 12:14:46 EST 2004

On Thursday 11 March 2004 08:42, furuli at online.no wrote:
> Dear Dave,
> We cannot today know exactly how vowels in the past were pronounced,
> therefore I qualified my statements by using the words "the same, or
> almost the same".  My argument regarding the Masoretes, and that
> WAYYIQTOL is non-existent before their time, does not rely on the
> assumption that shewa and patah were pronounced similarly, or almost
> similarly. But the argument rests on the manuscript evidence that we
> have and on the study of and comparison of 70.000 Hebrew verbs
> The assumption of similar pronunciation is just a way to try to
> understand Masoretic reasoning and procedures.

While it's true that we can't know *exactly* how they were pronounced, we can 
get a fair idea, and the evidence we have from the Masoretes is that there 
were distinctions.  Peter already pointed to the strong patah pronunciation 
in a closed syllable as in the initial syllable of wayyiqtol.  But beyond 
that, there are simply too many usage differences between wayyiqtol and 
weyiqtol to write them off as Masoretic mistakes.  I know you've said before 
that you did "study and comparison" of all the verbs in the HB, but I wonder 
what form that "study and comparison" took.  I'm sure you know that Loprieno 
tried to take this same approach to the wayyiqtol decades ago, based on 
comparison with certain Egyptian forms, and Givon appears to reject the 
distinctive wayyiqtol as well.  Neither of their hypotheses has gained any 
real level of acceptance, and there's a reason for that.  When we see the 
wayyiqtol form used so widely in a particular type of literary setting, and 
not just in Hebrew but also in Moabite, Arabic and others, it should tell us 
something about the existence of the form as a distinct syntactic entity.

Dave Washburn
Learning about Christianity from a non-Christian
is like getting a kiss over the telephone.

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