[b-hebrew] The perspective of this native speaker of Modern Hebrew of Biblical Hebrew tenses

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sun Nov 28 16:38:55 EST 2004

Dear Peter,

See my comments below.

Peter Kirk wrote:

> On 27/11/2004 22:29, Rolf Furuli wrote:
>> ...
>> The data above includes only WAYYIQTOLs.  The table which the 
>> comments above relates to, refers to  715 WAYYIQTOLs of 1st person 
>> singular/plural.  Of these, 101 have a paragogic he ("cohortative"),  
>> 51 are apocopated; 103 could have been apocopated but are not; and 
>> 460 could not be apocopated.  This shows clearly that non-apocopation 
>> was the trend for 1st person-forms; the opposite of what we would 
>> expect if a short form was sought whenever possible because the 
>> antecedent was a short  YAQTUL.
> Does this in fact apply to WAYYIQTOLs, which for the first person 
> start vav-qamats-alef or vav-patah-nun-dagesh? I can only find 669 
> words starting with these combinations, and very likely some of them 
> are not verbs at all. So what are the otherat least 46? Does you in 
> fact also include WEYIQTOL forms, in which the vav is generally 
> pointed with sheva?
> I ask because it seems that the otherwise rare WEYIQTOL form is 
> relatively common in the 1st person singular. For example, I looked at 
> these forms of the common (&H or `asah "do", in 1st person singular 
> only. I found: 

In my Gramcord Hebrew text I find 632 WAYYIQTOLs of 1st person singular 
and 83 of 1st  person plural.

> 11 examples which start with vav-sheva and are not apocopated, and all 
> seem to have future or modal meaning (GEN 35:3; EXO 32:10; NUM 14:12; 
> DEU 9:14; 12:30; 1SA 20:4; 2SA 9:1,3; 24:12; 1CH 21:10; NEH 6:13) - 
> these are clearly WEYIQTOL forms;
> 5 examples which start with vav-qamats and are apocopated, and 
> apparently have past meaning (DEU 10:3; EZK 12:7; 20:9,22; 24:18) - 
> these are WAYYIQTOL forms;
> 2 examples which start with vav-qamats and are not apocopated, and 
> have past meaning (EZK 20:14; DAN 8:27). These are indeed 
> non-apocopated WAYYIQTOL forms, but it is interesting that they are 
> both in late books, and that only one of the five examples in Ezekiel 
> is not apocopated.
> These are all the words in the Hebrew Bible written consonantally as 
> vav-alef-ayin-shin and vav-alef-ayin-shin-he.
> Tentative conclusion: in the first person, WEYIQTOL forms are not 
> apocopated, but WAYYIQTOL forms are mostly but not always apocopated. 
> Does your data contradict this? 

My data are as follows:  Of 543 WEYIQTOLs of 1st p. there are 238 (43.8 
%) with cohortative.  Of the 69 lamedh he-verbs without suffix, 2 (3 %) 
are apocopated and 67 are not.  Of all 1,217 WEYIQTOLs 85 lamedh 
he-verbs  and 68 other verbs are apocopated.  This means that 12.6 
percent of all WEYIQTOLs are apocopated while 27 percent of all 
WAYYIQTOLs are apocopated.  Taking the environments where WAYYIQTOLs and 
WEYIQTOLs occur  into consideration, the differences may be 
understandable.  I analyze 774 WEYIQTOLs as modal and 443 as indicative, 
while I analyse only 2 percent of the WAYYIQTOLs as modal (I would guess 
that at least 10 percent of the WAYYIQTOLs are modal, but this is 
difficult to see, and therefore I have only counted those that I, with a 
reasonable certainty can say are modal).  When I speak of environment, I 
think of narrative, where the clauses were recited in one way, and 
modal/future where the recitation probably was different.  If 
apocopation to some degree depends on the rhytm and stress of the 
clause, I would think of apocopation as more likely in narrative recitation.

The conclusion is that the difference between apocopated WAYYIQTOLs and 
WEYIQTOLs that are apocopated is not so great that a semantic difference 
is suggested. Further, the apocopation of WAYYIQTOLs to a rather great 
extend depends on the grammatical person of the verb.

Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

> So I started a further search and found 143 words starting with 
> vav-qamats-alef and ending with he. These will include most but not 
> all of the non-apocopated 1st person singular WAYYIQTOLs, as well as 
> cases of. These also include a large number of cases of paragogic he, 
> i.e. he added on after the end of the normal verb root, the opposite 
> of apocopation (and common practice with the cohortative). I don't 
> have time to look at all of these, but it is interesting that the huge 
> majority of both non-apocopated forms and paragogic hes are in the 
> books from Ezra onwards, in the English Bible order, in other words 
> generally either late or poetic books. There are only two of them in 
> the Pentateuch: DEU 1:16,18. This suggests that there is a late 
> tendency to add paragogic he to first person WAYYIQTOLs by analogy 
> with cohortatives.

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