[b-hebrew] Prophetic Perfect? Psalm 107

furuli at online.no furuli at online.no
Fri May 21 11:52:22 EDT 2004

Dear Vadim,

You beg the question! Classical Hebrew is a dead language without 
informants, so you do not hear anybody say words, and you do not see 
anybody use verb forms. I am not sure that you understand the very 
important linguistic difference between "semantic meaning" and 
"conversational pragmatic implicature" and how this applies to 
WAYYIQTOLs and other verb forms.

  A substantive (e.g. duck) has nothing to do with a verb, and you 
even argue on the basis if the *reference* of the substantive, not on 
the basis of its *^meaning*. Remember Ogden's triangle of 
signification with sign, meaning, and reference at the three corners. 
This is applicable to substantives but not directly to 
morphosyntactic (verb) forms. But if we should learn anything from 
it, we agree regarding the *reference* of the WAYYIQTOL  of )MR in 
Genesis 1:3, it has past reference. The crucial question, however, is 
its *meaning*.  Is its past reference based on the context, just as 
in the case of the Phoenician infinitive absolutes I have mentioned 
-thus being pragmatic? Or is its past reference an instrinsic part of 
the verb form WAYYIQTOL itself - thus being semantic?  You cannot 
answer this question by mentioning how modern people refer to 

Best regards


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

>Dear Rolf,
>>In my view traditional Hebrew grammar itself contains many fundamental
>I wrote Hebrew grammar book. The ancient language is mathematically precise,
>without a single oddity.
>How do you know that English word "duck" means a duck and not an elephant?
>Because most times you hear someone say "duck" it refers to this food (dead
>or still alive). If someone calls another bird a duck, or uses the word as a
>verb, etc, yourecognize it as deviations. Why? Because statistically the
>word "duck" refers to a duck.
>Sometimes the words change their meaning over the time. How do we know that?
>Because statistically the new meaning becomes increasingly common.
>Some people, perhaps, write "duk." How do we know it's wrong? Because most
>others write "duck."
>But then English lost "thou" form, How do we know that it is not people who
>err, but the language change? Because no one uses this word in the modern
>Grammar is about statistics.
>Best regards,
>>  I trust a physician who examines my eyes much more than one who just
>>  counts them. To apply general statistical models and to use known
>>  error rates in connection with the verbal system of a dead language,
>>  is the same as to count eyes. We have to make a *qualitative* study
>>  of the verbal system of Classical Hebrew, not just a *quantitative*
>>  one!  True, statistics is a part of a qualitative study, but just a
>>  part of it.
>>  My basic criticism of previous studies of Hebrew verbs is the
>>  following: No scholar, as far as I know, have ever published a study
>>  of Hebrew verbs where a systematic difference between past reference
>>  and past tense have been carried out.
>>  Let me now ask you a question: Please take a look at Genesis 1:1 and
>>  the first WAYYIQTOL in the verse and tell me: How can you know (and I
>>  am asking for scientific reasons) that this WAYYIQTOL *semantically*
>>  speaking *is* past tense (grammaticalized location in time), and that
>>  the past reference is not  pragmatic implicature? To state the
>>  question a little differently: Which scientific reasons do you have
>>  to argue that this WAYYIQTOL  is not a YIQTOL with past reference (as
>>  the two in Genesis 2.5 which have past reference) with the
>>  conjunction WAW prefixed? I am not satisfied with references to
>>  grammars, but I want to hear linguistic arguments.
>>  BTW. I do not say that the Tanakh does not contain errors, but to
>>  speak of "grammatical errors" you must first establish "the true
>>  grammar" by which you can detect these errors. In my view traditional
>>  Hebrew grammar itself contains many fundamental errors.
>>  Best regards
>>  Rolf
>>  Rolf Furuli
>  > University of Oslo
>  >

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