[b-hebrew] Verbs, text-segmenting and clause-types

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Mon Aug 1 03:15:58 EDT 2005

Dear Peter,

See my comments below.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Peter Kirk" <peterkirk at qaya.org>
To: "Rolf Furuli" <furuli at online.no>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2005 6:18 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Verbs, text-segmenting and clause-types

> On 31/07/2005 15:31, Rolf Furuli wrote:
>>I will concentrate on Psalm 107: 17-20.
>>NIV has the following translation:
>>17. Some became fools (nominal cl. ) through their rebellious ways
>>and suffered affliction (YIQTOL) because of their iniquities.
>>18. They loathed (YIQTOL) all food and drew near (WAYYIQTOL) the
>>gates of death.
>>19. Then they cried (WAYYIQTOL) to the LORD on their trouble,
>>and he saved (YIQTOL) them from their distress.
>>20. He sent forth (YIQTOL) his word and healed them (WEYIQTOL), he
>>rescued (WEYIQTOL) them from the grave (YIQTOL)
>>It seems that the NIV translators viewed these verses as historical
>>narrative. They are expressed by 5 YIQTOLs, 2 WEYIQTOLs, and 2 WAYYIQTOLs.
> There is actually some evidence that the WAYYIQTOLs here have in fact been
> wrongly pointed, and should be WEYIQTOLs. In v.18 the consonantal form is
> WYGY(W. But the WAYYIQTOL of the hiphil of NG( is usually WYG( without a
> second yod, i.e. the similar to the shortened or apocopated form of YIQTOL
> according to the normal rule. The yod here implies a long, non-apocopated
> YIQTOL, and when a vav is prefixed to this the result is usually a
> WEYIQTOL. Of course for many verbs, including the following WYZ(QW, the
> two forms are identical. So, this suggests a case where either these two
> successive verbs had been misinterpreted in the pronunciation tradition as
> narrative WAYYIQTOL (because the original semantic or pragmatic
> distinctions were no longer fully understood) or where the Masoretes
> misheard the verbs. But the Masoretes had got back on track by v.20 and
> correctly wrote WEYIQTOL.
> I accept that WAYYIQTOL and WEYIQTOL often sounded very similar to the
> Masoretes, and so were sometimes confused in transcription. But there
> remains good evidence that they were originally distinct verb forms.
> It would be instructive to do a survey of the rather few apparent
> WAYYIQTOLs which are not apocopated when they could be, and of any
> WEYIQTOLs which are apocopated, to see if these tend to occur in places
> where the context suggests that the two forms could have been exchanged.
> For the semantic distinction may be not so much in the distinct prefixes
> as in the apocopation, which strongly tends to indicate modality when
> there is no prefixed vav.

The distinction between WAYYIQTOL and WEYIQTOL is often believed to be one
of apocopation, but that is not correct. The only verbs whose apocopation
can be seen in unpointed texts are lamed he verbs.
Of the lamedh he verbs of the WAYYIQTOLs in the Tanakh that can be
apocopated, 95,3% are apocopated and  4,7 %  are not apocopated. Of the
lamedh he verbs of the WEYIQTOLs in the Tanakh that can be apocopated, 50,6%
are apocopated and  49,4 %  are not apocopated.  The high numbers of
apocopated WEYIQTOLs show that we cannot use apocopation to distinguish
between the two.

There is also another interesting point, namely that apocopation is related
to grammatical person. Of the 3. p. m. s. WAYYIQTOLs 98.7% are apocopated
but of the 1. p. s. only 33.1% are apocopated. Of the  3. p. s. m. WEYIQTOLs
89.4% are apocopated, and of the 1. p. s. 0% are apocopated. This means that
the basic reason for the different numbers of apocopated WEYIQTOLs and
WAYYIQTOLs is the assymetry in the distribution of grammatical persons.  Of
the total number among the lamed he verbs of 1. p. s. and 3. p.s. m., the 1.
p. s. group of the WAYYIQTOLs constitute 5.6% but of the WEYIQTOLs this
group constitutes 48.9%.  This means that the percentages of apocopated
forms are about the same in the WAYYIQTOLs and the WEYIQTOLs.  Moreover, the
stress in the same apocopated verbs as WAYYIQTOLs and WEYIQTOLs is similar
in 54% of the cases and different in 46% of the cases.

These numbers clearly suggest that phonological reasons and/or the tendency
to cut off endings in Hebrew words are the reasons behind apocopation and
not that the antecedent to the apocopated WAYYIQTOLs is a short preterit
YAQTUL  while the antecedent to the WEYIQTOLs and the YIQTOLs is a long
present/future YAQTULU.

> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/

Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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