[b-hebrew] Basic observations on WAYYIQTOL

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Wed Aug 17 13:44:44 EDT 2005

On Wednesday 17 August 2005 10:42, Peter Kirk wrote:
> 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.

Ugh.  My BDB - along with all my other books - is packed.  What suffix do you 

> 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!

It's a fascinating question, and I have no idea about the answer.  I suppose 
the first step would be to get a full grasp of verbless clauses, but how to 
do that if we suspect that some of them may be ungrammatical?  So we end up 
in a circle.  Still, exploring this question might make an interesting 
dissertation topic for somebody a fair bit younger than I am...

Dave Washburn
"Well, if I'd wanted a safe life, I guess I wouldn't have 
married a man who studies rocks." - Betty Armstrong (Fay Masterson)

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