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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sun Nov 28 18:19:15 EST 2004

On 28/11/2004 21:38, Rolf Furuli wrote:

> ...
>> 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.
Thank you, Rolf. Well, I conclude that apocopation is much less common 
in 1st person than in other persons:


1st person: 3/543 = 0.06% (ISA 41:28; 42:6; HOS 11:4)
All persons: 12.6% (your data)
(543/1217 = 45% are 1st person)


1st person: 51/708 = 7.2%
All persons: 27% (your data)
(708/15032 = 4.7% are 1st person)

YIQTOL (including WEYIQTOL):

1st person: 13/2803 = 0.046% (DEU 18:16; 1SA 14:36; JOB 23:9,11; ISA 
41:23,28; 42:6; EZK 5:16; HOS 9:15; 11:4; ZEP 1:2,3,3)
All persons: 841/11869 = 7.1%
(2803/11869 = 24% are 1st person)

The implication is a strong preference for the longer form in the first 
person only. But there is also a very strong correlation between 
apocopation of a first person prefixed form and it being a WAYYIQTOL: 
51/64 = 80% of these are WAYYIQTOL although in general only 708/3511 = 
20% of first person prefixed forms are WAYYIQTOL.

It is also interesting to see that there proportion of WEYIQTOLs which 
are 1st person is nearly ten times higher than the proportion of 
WAYYIQTOLs. That tends to skew the statistics.

It would also be interesting to see how well the apocopation of 
WEYIQTOLs correlates with a jussive (modal) sense. There is quite a 
strong correlation, although far from a perfect one, with all YIQTOLs, 
and I would expect WEYIQTOLs to match.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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