[b-hebrew] Fw: WAYYIQTOL

George Athas gathas at hotkey.net.au
Fri Mar 12 07:40:00 EST 2004

Hi Peter (and others)!

I am arguing for two distinct verb forms -- that is, a differentiation
between the verbal element of WAYYIQTOL forms (wayYIQTOL), and the pure
Imperfect YIQTOL. I believe there to be a distinct aspectual difference
between the two. This is *not* based on an understanding that WAYYIQTOL is
really a YIQTOL with a waw that inverts the tense. I think that is an
erroneous view. I understand the Preterite, which stands behind WAYYIQTOL
forms, to have had a different aspect to the Imperfect YIQTOL. As such, this
removes the need to see the waw consecutive as a necessarily distinct type
of waw. Rolf's suggestion that its effective pronunciation was identical to
that of the ordinary waw conjunction is plausible, and that the Masoretes
made the distinction in vowel pointing for the sake of clarity, even though
both waw's were pronunced the same. I don't know if Rolf is correct, but it
sounds plausible to me.

The similarity between the Preterite and Imperfect in most roots seems to
have led eventually to an assimilation of forms. As such, the Preterite
seems to have conformed to the Imperfect more and more until people could
not really tell the difference. This confusion would help to explain why
"waw-consecutive" eventually dropped out of use in Hebrew.

Similarly, I think the case can be made for seeing the QATAL forms and the
WEQATAL forms as distinct also. I don't think Rolf would necessarily agree
with me on this one. Again, the distinction seems to be aspectual and I do
not think it based on the presence or non-presence of a prefixed waw. If you
base the difference on the prefixed waw, then you will run into all sorts of
problems when you encounter a WEQATAL form which should be translated with a
past tense meaning (not a future meaning; eg, Jer 46.6).  I see the WEQATAL
as having an adjunctive force, adding something like a 'sub-point' to an
established idea. In fact, I have taken to using the term "Adjunctive" with
students to desrcibe the WEQATAL. This helps explain why, for example, an
imperative followed by WEQATAL will see the WEQATAL having imperatival
force; the aspect of WEQATAL is derived logically from an antecedent idea.

There is more to say than this, but I have been teaching this way for a few
years now and it seems to work very well. Students are able to grasp the
nuances of Hebrew verbs far more successfully than with the old 'conversive'
tradition. I am trialling a teaching grammar I have co-written with Ian
Young (Uni of Sydney) which uses this method. Hopefully we will be able to
refine it and publish it some time in the near future.

Best regards,

Lecturer in Biblical Languages
Southern Cross College
Sydney, Australia

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