[b-hebrew] Hebrew grammar, (was Zech 6:8)

David Kummerow farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Thu Dec 1 18:07:57 EST 2005

Peter Kirk wrote:

> There are all sorts of problems with your theory:
>  >Why then the preferred apocopation? As I said before, I can imagine,
>  >language being economic, people being lazy ;), that if a verbal form
>  >is getting heavier in the front due to the gemination, it might as
>  >well lose some weight at the back. In a yiqtol verb, presence or
>  >absence of an apocopated ending, or a short -a or -u short vowel in
>  >older phases of Hebrew would have given the yiqtol a certain meaning,
>  >but Hebrew lost its short end vowel anyway, and wayyqtl gets its
>  >meaning out of the gemination. The loose yiqtol is still available in
>  >the short jussive version and in the longer version.
>  >
>  >
> If this kind of phonological process happened, it should have happened
> consistently - a point which you yourself made concerning Arabic. In
> fact apocopation simply cannot be analysed as phonological shortening
> (for economy or from laziness), but it can very easily be explained
> phonologically on the basis of the known existence in an earlier stage
> of the language of separate yaqtul and yaqtulu verb forms. This point
> can be demonstrated on the basis of regular and jussive YIQTOL forms
> quite independently of WAYYIQTOL, which is formally identical to jussive
> and cohortative with a prefixed WA- and gemination.
>  >...
>  >For those who want to suppose there was also a preterite yiqtol, I
>  >won't forbid that, but even if this had been the case in proto-Hebrew,
>  >proto-NWSemitic or proto-Semitic, it is not so relevant to the
>  >biblical stage of Hebrew that we find in our MT. Why not? If the
>  >(simple) past tense that Wayyqtl basically is, can be satisfactorily
>  >explained by means of the primary gemination, then "Ockham's razor"
>  >forbids us to *also* try to explain it by means of some proto-Hebrew
>  >preterite yiqtol, which is after all a reconstruction.
>  >
>  >
> But Occam's Razor applies only if the simple explanation explains all
> the phenomena. And the difference in forms between regular YIQTOL and
> jussive cannot be explained in the way you have put forward, which (in
> the absence of other convincing hypotheses) suggests to me that the
> simplest hypothesis is that regular YIQTOL and jussive come from
> different proto-NWSemitic verb forms, which are attested in cognate
> languages. If this can be demonstrated independently of WAYYIQTOL, it
> then becomes by far the simplest explanation of WAYYIQTOL that it is
> (formally, rather than semantically) based on the jussive rather than
> the regular YIQTOL.


Herman: if you can get your hands on the following article, I would like 
you thoughts on it in relation to your theory. The discussion here 
recalled it to mind. It would seem to imply that wayyiqyol gemination is 

Holmstedt, Robert D. "The Phonology of Classical Hebrew: A Linguistic 
Study of Long Vowels and Syllable Structure." Zeitschrift für 
Althebraistik 13 (2000): 145-156.

David Kummerow.

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