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

B. M. Rocine brocine at twcny.rr.com
Sun Nov 28 08:57:14 EST 2004

Hi Rolf,  you wrote:
> 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.

Yes, we have had some stimulating exchanges once in a while.  I miss them. 
I hope I have the time to sustain a little exchange on these 998 wayyqtl's.

Let me refer again to my earlier post:

>> 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.

You responded:
> 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.

I think your response about Hopper's example may be making my point. 
Hopper's example shows that a perfective form may be used in Russian to 
communicate an embedded sequence in a context where one might predict a 
perfective form could not appear.  It can appear because of some combination 
of Aktionsart and/or context.  The basic perfective meaning of the form 
remains intact.  The so-called perfective forms in his example do not prove 
that the Russian perfective form is not really perfective.  We do not have 
to rewrite the Russian grammar books because of his example.  Likewise, 
maybe your 998 non-past wayyiqtols do not prove that the wayyiqtol is not 

My Pro. 31 example was to illustrate that a wayyiqtol can be used to embed 
sequence into a text  that is about habitual actions.

Take your example of two wayyiqtols in Jer 51:29.  The consensus among the 
five or six modern translators I checked is that the wayyiqtols are 
non-past; they differ on whether to translate them as present or future.  I 
quickly vote future with you.  I do not, however, think the text is evidence 
that the wayyiqtols are not perfective.  The perfectivity of the forms is 
utilized to explicitly embed sequentiality into the text.  I think 
translations should use the word *then* or *so*:  "Then the land will quake, 
then it will writhe for the thoughts of YHWH stand against Babel."


B. M. Rocine
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13206

ph: 315.437.6744
fx: 315.437.6766 

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