[b-hebrew] Basic observations on WAYYIQTOL

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Wed Aug 17 12:42:21 EDT 2005

On 17/08/2005 16:44, Dave Washburn wrote:

> ...
>As we know, Hebrew allowed a whole range of verbless clauses that would be 
>utterly foreign to English.  In addition, the behavior of HINNEH could fill 
>several books by itself.  So I'm not sure this is a real example of an 
>"abbreviated form" within the context of the ancient Hebrew dialect.  Compare 
>the oft-seen response when someone is called to, HINNENI.  Considering the 
>extensive use of verbless clauses and the generally verbless behavior of 
>HINNEH, I doubt that this clause is ungrammatical, even in isolation.

I accept that Hebrew sentences can be verbless without being 
ungrammatical. But what looks ungrammatical here is the absence or 
elision of the personal suffix HINNEH. But re Gen 18:9 BDB mentions "the 
suffix ... being not infrequently omitted". So perhaps this is not the 
best example - it was simply the first possible one that I found.

But now you must get the point of what I am referring to. It is 
certainly common in conversation in English and many other languages to 
abbreviate sentences to the extent of them being ungrammatical if taken 
in isolation. Is such abbreviation attested in biblical Hebrew? I would 
be surprised if it is not, although it might be hard to prove this of 
any one example because we don't have native speakers to ask about 
grammaticality. So I won't spend time searching for any one example 
which might be torn apart!

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

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