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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Aug 1 07:19:51 EDT 2005

On 01/08/2005 08:15, Rolf Furuli wrote:

> ...
>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. ...

And also in certain hiphil forms, such as the example I mentioned.

>... 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.

Thank you for these figures. But I am not convinced that they are not 
distinctive. I would hypothesise that many of the 4.7% non-apocopated 
WAYYIQTOLs are in fact corrupted non-jussive WEYIQTOLs, and test that 
hypothesis by looking at their contexts. As for the distribution of 
WEYIQTOLs, I would hypothesise that the apocopated ones are either 
jussive or cohortative in meaning or corrupted WAYYIQTOLs, and again 
test that hypothesis against the context.

>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 is of course potentially related to the rather similar distinction 
between jussive and cohortative, which are essentially the same form but 
the cohortative first person usually (but not always) has an additional 
he. I note that adding the additional he to an apocopated lamed he verb 
is, at least in an unpointed text, equivalent to reversing the 
apocopation. Thus the distribution of apocopation in WEYIQTOL forms 
broadly matches that of jussives and cohortatives and perhaps suggests 
that around 90% of WEYIQTOLs are basically vav + jussive/cohortative, 
with the remaining ones being vav + regular YIQTOL; and that many of the 
non-apocopated 1st person WAYYIQTOLs in fact have the cohortative 
additional he. But it remains interesting to look at the exceptions in 
context - although I would not expect every exception to be explainable 
in this way as Hebrew grammar is not completely fixed.


>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.
On the contrary, it might suggest that both WAYYIQTOL and WEYIQTOL are 
mostly derived from the short YAQTUL, but with an added he in the first 

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

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