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

Herman Meester crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Thu Dec 1 17:28:54 EST 2005

Peter wrote:
> > Herman: I think I agree with you. But then we still have the big problem: how
> >can *wa-yaqtulu (or *wa-yaqtul) lead to both wayyiqtol *and*
> >we-yiqtol?
> >I guess, even if we have to assume there was a preterite yiqtol
> >(*yaqtul), that when the distinction between the several yiqtols got
> >blurred (when short end vowels fell off) and the preterite yiqtol
> >started looking a lot like other yiqtols, the prefix gemination
> >apparantly took over the job of given expression to what the preterite
> >yiqtol (*yaqtul) had done before.
> >
> >
> My tentative answer is somewhat different: short yaqtul acquired the
> definite prefix and the vav to form wayyiqtol before the distinction
> between yaqtul and yaqtulu was lost, before short final vowels were lost
> - which may actually have been quite late, even after the biblical books
> were written, as the short final vowel would not have been reflected in
> consonantal writing.
> An alternative tentative answer is that when the distinction between
> yaqtul and yaqtulu started to disappear speakers started to stress and
> so geminate the start of yaqtul simply to keep it distinct from
> yaqtul(u). But that idea turns the gemination into a phonological
> phenomenon rather than a definite morpheme, and loses the link to the
> definite article. Or I suppose they could have started adding the
> definite article to the start of yaqtul to distinguish it from
> yaqtul(u), which seems at first like the same thing but makes it into a
> morphological change rather than a phonological one.

Dear Peter,
I think, as for the original gemination, you are coming dangerously
close to my own position regarding this subject ;)
The difference between your and my point of view, I feel, is that you
can't yet accept the definite article <~> wayyiqtol link, because you
are not convinced that primary gemination is the case in the article.
But whether primary gemination in wayyqtl is for morphological reasons
(to dintinguish it from the jussive), or that it is the yiqtol being
"anchored to this world" with gemination (which is not the "article",
but the same phenomenon that *also* produces the "article", I
maintain!), it is still primary gemination. You know my position by
now, and I think you may some day be convinced of Ullendorf's
hypothesis; maybe all it takes is a little chat with a specilised
Arabist. That may eventually enable you to embrace the Hatav-theory.
As I said, I do appreciate your open mind for this subject, and I
really believe some of the insights we've been discussing will have
implications for future, serious writing on BHebrew syntax.

I like the idea that the innovation of C1-gemination has something to
do with the disappearance of final short vowels. These things don't
happen in a week time, they must have overlapped. Too bad Hebrew
spelling is what it is, we can't see these short vowels, making all
our thinking about the subject rather speculative per se.

I think I should spend a little more time on the texts themselves now,
btw I am supposed to be paying attention mostly to Rabbinic texts, for
which all this Wayyqtl thinking is totally irrelevant. Still Wayyqtl
will continue to have my chronic interest, I will continue to pay
attention to any comments here regarding it.


More information about the b-hebrew mailing list