[b-hebrew] 998 non-past wyyqtl's

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sat Nov 27 12:01:48 EST 2004

Dear Bryan,

Nice to hear from you again; I think it is about 7 years since we first 
time exchanged viewpoints regarding Hebrew verbs on this list.

B. M. Rocine wrote:

> Hi Rolf, May I comment on the 998 non-past wayyiqtols?  First, I 
> applaud your recognition of them.
> You wrote:
>> I agree with your comments regarding the use of WAYYIQTOL and QATAL 
>> in past contexts, with one exception.  There are several examples of 
>> WAYYIQTOL with non-past reference (at least 998).
> I have not rigorously studied these 998 as a set, but I have noticed 
> many of them and will credit you 998 or more.  I do not grant that the 
> 998 negate a perfective meaning for the wyyqtl form.  In short, I 
> would explain them as a writer's linguistic option for embedding a 
> sequence into a modal context (I am including predictive texts as 
> modal).  This explanation allows the possibility that the wayyiqtol 
> form is semantically aspectually perfective even though 998 refer to 
> the non-past. 

When you include predictive texts as modal, a great number of the  
WAYYIQTOLs I analyze as future will by you be taken as modals.  However, 
in this case I follow the definition of Comrie ( Comrie, B. (1985). 
Tense, p. 44): "For the moment, however, it should be noted that the 
so-called future tense in English makes a clear prediction about some 
future state of affairs, and is in this way clearly distinct from modal 
constructions that make refrence to alternative worlds."

I do not view WAYYIQTOLs as imperfective because they can refer to the 
future, because perfective verbs can do the same, as you also mean.  
Below I refer to one example from my dissertation which shows QATALs and 
WAYYIQTOLs with future reference, namely, Jeremiah chapter 51.  I 
analyze the 1 WAYYIQTOL of v. 8, the two of v. 29, the one of v 41 as 
having future reference, and the two of v. 16 as having present 
reference.  I quote my own commentary to the verses:

"In chapter 51 we find 50 QATALs, 27 with future reference (including 
one future completed), 1 with past, 6 with present, 1 with modal, and 15 
with present completed reference.  Of the QATALs, 15 with future and 1 
with present reference have preceding elements, preventing an enclitic 
WAW, and 14  with future reference are sentence initial.  There are 38 
WEQATALs, 34 YIQTOLs (including 2 WEYIQTOLs), and 4 WAYYIQTOLs with 
future reference."

> Hopper gives the following example from Russian:
> ...Peasants returning from the city whipped (impfv.) their horses and 
> rushed by (impfv.) in silence past these regualarly distributed 
> figures with their highly felonious appearance.  The soxoz managers 
> and the authorities rumbled by (impfv.) on carts and demostrably 
> showed (impfv.) the colonists their double-barrelled and sawed-off 
> shotguns, while people on foot stopped (impfv.) at the bridge and 
> waited (impfv.) for other travellers.
> While I was around the colonists never misbehaved (impfv.) or bothered 
> (impfv.) the travellers, but when I wasn't they allowed (impfv.) 
> themselves some dirty tricks, so that soon Zadarov refused (pfv.) to 
> take the revolver and demanded (pfv.) that I absolutely had to spend 
> time out on the road.  So I began (pfv.) to go out with every 
> detachment, but still gave (impfv.) the revolver to Zadorov, so as not 
> to deprive him of deserved pleasure.
> Hopper's comment, "The habitual actions here do not come to an end 
> with the event verbs 'refused', 'demanded', and 'began', but are 
> thought of as on-going.  The three perfective verbs, however, are 
> sequenced among themselves, and in fact the morphological difference 
> between perfective and imperfective is a clear signal that these, and 
> only these, events are presented as sequenced, and that they are not 
> sequenced with respect to the imperfective verbs."
> p. 10 "Aspect Between Discourse and Grammar" from   _Tense-Aspect: 
> Between Semantics and Pragmatics_, ed. Hopper.  Amsterdam/Phila.: John 
> Benjamins, 1982. 

I am very sceptical to Russian examples used to illuminate classical 
Hebrew, because what is called the imperfective and perfective aspects 
in Russian are more like Aktionsart than aspects.  For example, 
"habituality" is not an aspectual quality in my definition of Hebrew 
aspects, but is a function of aspect + Aktionsart +possibly context.  
Peter Kirk may have more to say about this, because he knows both 
Russian and Hebrew.

> Here's an example from the Hebrew Bible:
> TNK Proverbs 31:14-15 She is (qtl) like a merchant fleet, Bringing 
> (yqtl) her food from afar. 15 She rises (wayyqtl) while it is still 
> night, And supplies (wayyqtl) provisions for her household, The daily 
> fare of her maids. 

Are the WAYYIQTOLs here modal ???  I would take them as indicative with 
present reference, and the same I would do with the QATAL and the 
YIQTOL.  On the basis of which would you ascribe a difference of mood 
and/or temporal reference to these four verbs?


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