[b-hebrew] Psa 107:19-21 (was WAYYIQTOL)

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Tue Mar 23 12:53:16 EST 2004


On Monday 22 March 2004 17:29, Sameer Yadav wrote:
> Hi Dave,
> Sorry for the presumption.

No presumption at all.  I hope I didn't sound gruff.

> Buth doesn’t list the counterexamples he has in mind,
> but he is likely referring to the same passages that
> Hatav mentions in “The Semantics of Aspect and
> Modality.”  There are examples of qtl in
> counterfactual clauses using the LW particle (Num
> 20:3) and its negated form LWL”Y (Gen 31:42).

As you hint below, I tend to think that the particle is the key element in 

> Even if the modal meaning in cases like these is
> syntactic, arising from the collocation of the
> particle plus the suffixed form, nevertheless the
> contribution of the qtl conjugation is curious if its
> basic independent function is to mark an indicative
> form.  

Not really.  We see examples in English, where the "proper" subjunctive is "If 
I were a rich man" even though, taken in syntactic isolation, "were" is an 
indicative.  In our day, it has become more acceptable to say "If I was a 
rich man" where, in the absence of the "if" particle, "was" is an indicative.  
I see no reason why Hebrew couldn't have had similar particle-based 

Further, there are also uses counterfactual
> uses of qtl that occur without the particle, like
> $FLAX:T.IY in the protasis of the conuterfactual
> condition in Exod 9:15 (see also e.g. Num. 12:14;
> 22:33; 30:6).

Hmm, I don't see how Exod 9:15 is a counterfactual: now I have stretched out 
my hand and struck (wayyiqtol)...

While Num 12:14 has been translated as a conditional "if her father had spit 
in her face..." but it seems open to question and might as easily be rendered 
"her father [i.e. YHWH] has spit in her face..."  So while the text is indeed 
problematic, I'm not sure it qualifies as a solid counter-example.

Num 22:33 has )W.LAY before the qatal which would seem to put it in a similar 
category as qatal with LW etc.

If Num 30:6 is in the Hebrew numbering, that has )IM before it, yet another 
"conditional" particle.  So while it doesn't have the particle LW or LWLAY it 
does have a similar particle.

> In the conclusion to her book, Hatav acknowledges that
> cases like these are problematic, but she doesn't
> attempt to deal with them.  Instead, she simply lists
> them as candidates for future research.  I am not
> aware of how Zuber would respond, but I would like to
> know if Ken or anyone else has come across one.

I'm inclined to agree with Hatav on that point, and I really doubt whether any 
syntactic theory is ever going to cover all possible counter-examples, 
especially where poetry is involved.  In every language I've ever seen, 
poetry makes its own syntax and structure that may or may not, as the 
occasion warrants, resemble "good" grammar.  That's why in my own research I 
studiously avoid poetic passages when trying to sort out a general syntax of 
the verb system.  In general, though, I tend to suspect that Hatav's modal 
analysis of the four main verb forms holds up.  Where she and I part company 
is on the question of sequentiality, but that's another topic.

> sameer
> --- Dave Washburn <dwashbur at nyx.net> wrote:
> > Since many of us don't have access to such journals,
> > would you mind listing some of his "counterfactual"
> > examples?
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Dave Washburn
Learning about Christianity from a non-Christian
is like getting a kiss over the telephone.

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