[b-hebrew] Hebrew Verbs Request (from Rodney Duke)

Read, James C K0434995 at kingston.ac.uk
Thu Aug 18 12:27:35 EDT 2005

Hi there,

my 'linguistic' process is an instinctual one. It follows no strict rules or formalised methods which 
can be found summarised in a scholarly work.
It basically consists of listening (or reading in the case of the tanakh). The assumption is that
there are no such thing as 'grammatical rules' but only 'usual behaviours & patterns'. Under this 
philosophy 'exceptions' are not to be considered 'bad grammar' but the difference between having 
an accademic knowledge of the language and really understanding the languages living spirit. Thus 
the true meaning of any word, suffic, prefix or particle is more governed by its contextual usage
,while they can often have a primary meaning that is considered to be its normal meaning.

The particle 'wa' has the basic meaning of 'and' and when affixed to wayyiqtols has the effect of 
indicating a sequence. But to say that 'wa' always means 'and' and a 'wayyiqtol' always indicates 
sequence is contrary both to the data and to mylinguistic instincts. The data and my instincts 
show that 'wa' is often better translated as 'but/when/while' depending on the context. In the 
same way that data also shows that wayyiqtols do not always indicate sequence.
Was sequence normal in spoken hebrew with wayyiqtols? We don't know! But we can say with certainty
that the corpus of the hebrew bible shows that this is the major usage. But what it is imperative 
to understand from an 'instictually linguistic' point of view is that it is the *context* and not 
the form which dictates this.

Similar arguments can be given with aspect etc.  of verbs but I think you get the point:

1) Forms can have a seemingly primary usage
2) The exceptions to the primary usage are what refine your understanding
3) It is the context and not the form that dictate the meaning 

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org on behalf of George Athas
Sent: Thu 8/18/2005 7:57 AM
To: b-hebrew
Subject: [b-hebrew] Hebrew Verbs Request (from Rodney Duke)
The following post is sent on behalf of Rodney Duke (dukerk at appstate.edu).


Dear Colleagues, 

The list has gone through another series of discussions on the Hebrew verbal system.  I have generally followed these discussions, and have even saved some that go back to 1999.  However, it is difficult for me to put together a synthesis of each one of the positions taken, when the discussion threads get so interwoven by interaction with various respondents.  

I would like to make the following request of each of the linguists, including self-educated linguists (no one excluded):  
Would you please present a very compact synthesis of your current understanding of (a) the Hebrew verbal system (tense? aspect? modal nuance?) and (b) the function of waw, particularly in wayyiqtol.  I certainly would benefit from a side-by-side comparison of your responses, if you would be so willing.  Also, I would like to request a (c) element: your strongest supportive argument.  For instance, I would be interested in the traditional "tense advocates" and 4-verb form advocates to state what they think is the strongest, still-standing argument for short and long prefixed verbs.  I am not asking that you go into lengthy explanations or defend your positions against all other variants.  Just state in briefly why you are convinced.  No dialogue.

I do not believe that DeCaen, Hatav, Niccacci, Buth, and some others have been involved in recent discussions.  If someone could represent their positions or explain how your current synthesis differs from one of theirs, that would be even more helpful.  I am not trying to get another convoluted thread going, just a collection of summary statements to compare.  Thanks in advance for anyone who is willing to take the time and effort to respond!

Rodney Duke
Professor of Phil. & Rel.
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28607 

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