[b-hebrew] VERBS. Was " masorete pointing v's LLX transliterations"

Shoshanna Walker rosewalk at concentric.net
Tue Jul 26 09:19:20 EDT 2005


Dear Shoshanna,

I use the expression "verb form" to refer to any part of the verbal system
that in one way ore another can be distinguished from other parts, e.g.
YIQTOL, WAYYIQTOL, qal, hiphil, participle, infinitive absolute etc.



That's what I though.  So aren't there way more than 4 or 5?

Shoshanna




Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

----- Original Message -----
From: "Shoshanna Walker" <rosewalk at concentric.net>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, July 26, 2005 1:13 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] VERBS. Was " masorete pointing v's LLX
transliterations"


> What's a "verb FORM"?
>
> Are you talking about "tenses"?
>
> Shoshanna
>
>
>>
>>
>>
> Maybe I was a little unfair to Rolf. After all, he has the right not to
> reply if he doesn't want to. However, my critique of his argument does
> not depend on our different theoretical standpoints. I would like to
> summarise here Rolf's arguments as I understand them, with some comments
> of mine in [...]
>
> 1) Many scholars have assumed that there are four different verb forms
> in Hebrew. From this assumption they have not surprisingly concluded
> that there is a fourfold semantic distinction. [This is fair comment.]
>
> 2) The evidence that there were originally four different verb forms is
> not entirely compelling, because some of the distinctions may be
> artefacts of the Masoretes. [I accept that the issue is not entirely
> provable either way.]
>
> 3) Although it is not entirely proved, an assumption will be made that
> there are only two different verb forms. [Is this true, Rolf, or are you
> actually claiming to have proved that there are only two different verb
> forms in advance of your analysis of all the verbs in the Hebrew Bible?]
>
> 4) On this assumption, all of the verb forms in the Hebrew Bible are
> analysed according to a complex and controversial linguistic model. The
> results of this analysis are that there are only two semantically
> distinct Hebrew verb forms, and that the distinction can be called one
> of "aspect" although it is different from the normal concept of "aspect"
> as defined by linguists. [The details of this analysis are in fact
> irrelevant to the argument here - although I dispute some of those
> details.]
>
> 5) The conclusions are reached that (a) there are only two semantically
> distinct verb forms in Hebrew, and (b) these have a certain "aspectual"
> significance. [But I note that (a) is simply a restatement of the
> initial assumption - at least, the number of semantically distinct verb
> forms cannot be greater than the total number of verb forms, although it
> just could be smaller.]
>
> 6) Traditional Hebrew grammar and most Bible translations are based on a
> model of four semantically distinct verb forms. Such a model is
> necessarily inconsistent with the "conclusion" (a) that there are only
> two semantically distinct verb forms. Therefore, "An acceptance of the
> conclusions would have a great impact on Bible translation, because
> thousands of verbs in modern Bible translations are in need of
> re-translation." [But I note that this final statement depends only on
> "conclusion" (a), for it applies irrespective of the precise semantic
> distinction which is conclusion (b). It also applies in the possible
> alternative situation that there are just two verb forms which are not
> semantically distinct.]
>
> So, it seems that Rolf could have skipped his study of all of the verb
> forms in the Hebrew Bible, and saved himself several years. For his
> final result that "thousands of verbs in modern Bible translations are
> in need of re-translation" depends only on his initial assumption that
> there are only two verb forms in Hebrew, whether or not they are
> semantically distinct. Well, I suppose that exactly how they should be
> re-translated depends on the semantic distinction and conclusion (b).
>
> Rolf, is this a fair summary of your arguments?
>
> It seems to me, rather, that Rolf has proved that there are two
> alternative models for the Hebrew verb, one with four semantically
> distinct verb forms and one with two such verb forms. He claims that the
> latter, his own model, is internally consistent, just as the former is
> internally consistent. But his method can offer us no way of determining
> which of these two consistent models is in fact correct, because his
> initial assumption that the first model is incorrect implies that his
> method is incapable in principle of demonstrating this.
>
> How can we resolve this issue? Well, looking at ancient translations
> e.g. LXX is likely to be very helpful, assuming that these translations
> are at least approximately correct. I have also attempted to argue that
> Rolf's model is not in fact internally consistent and so only the other
> model is possible. But that is not my main focus here.
>
> If Rolf wants to overturn an understanding of Hebrew grammar which has
> become well entrenched for many centuries, he needs to do better than to
> come up with an alternative internally consistent model. He needs to
> prove somehow that the traditional model is wrong. And this is what he
> has entirely failed to do, because his method is in principle incapable
> of doing so.
>
> --
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/
>
>
>
> --
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