[b-hebrew] Verbs, text-segmenting and clause-types

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sun Jul 31 10:31:52 EDT 2005


Dear Bryan,

There are several attractive sides with your model, but I will concentrate
on two problems, 1) the lack of control mechanisms, and 2) the possibility
of circularity.

I will concentrate on Psalm 107: 17-20.

NIV has the following translation:

17. Some became fools (nominal cl. ) through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction (YIQTOL) because of their iniquities.
18. They loathed (YIQTOL) all food and drew near (WAYYIQTOL) the
gates of death.
19. Then they cried (WAYYIQTOL) to the LORD on their trouble,
and he saved (YIQTOL) them from their distress.
20. He sent forth (YIQTOL) his word and healed them (WEYIQTOL), he
rescued (WEYIQTOL) them from the grave (YIQTOL)

It seems that the NIV translators viewed these verses as historical
narrative. They are expressed by 5 YIQTOLs, 2 WEYIQTOLs, and 2 WAYYIQTOLs.
You classify the first part of v 17 as historical narrative, and vv. 18, 19,
as PD (repeated actions in the past), and v 20 has no classification.  Only
the YIQTOL of v. 20 is sentence initial.

Q 1: Do the WAYYIQTOLs, the WEYIQTOLs, and the YIQTOLs have the same
semantic meaning (the imperfective aspect), or do they havve different
meanings?

Q 2: The WAYYIQTOLs and the WEYIQTOLs evidently have the same temporal
reference, so what is the difference?

 How can we pinpoint repeated action in the past  when both the
perefective and the imperfective aspect can portray repeated action? This is
a rhetorical question.
Look at 1a and 1b below, where both have perfective verbs. Example 1a may
very well
indicate repeated action, but whether Ann knocked once or several times is
not made visible. In 1b
the repeated action is made visible, not by the verb, but by the verb +
adverbial.  In the account of the death of Enkidu, the friend of Gilgamesh,
in the Akkadian Gilgamesh epic, Gilgamesh says:  uri u mu$i eli$u abki "Day
and night I cried over him" (the verb BAKÛ (to weep) is perfective (the
iprus form)) but the adverbial shows that the actions are repeated.

1a. Ann has knocked at the door.
1b. Ann has knocked at the door for one minute.

Also in classical Hebrew repeated actions in the past can be expressed both
by imperfective and perfective verbs.  Please compare the three clauses 2a,
2b, and 2c below.  In 2a the interpretation of repeated actions is caused by
a knowledge of the world: The paper is regularly published. In 2b and 2c the
adverbials are the cause for our interpretation of repeated actions, one
with a perfective and the other with an imperfective verb.

2a. Last year I have read (perfective) the New Tork Times.
2b. As they have done (QATAL) from the day I brought them out of Egypt until
this day. 1 Samuel 8:8 NIV
2c. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who
enter Dagon`s temple in Asdod step (YIQTOL) on the threshold. 1 Samuel 5:5
NIV

My point is that if we have a clause in classical Hebrew where we see
repeated actions in the past, this interpretation is caused by other factors
than the conjugation.  The only exceptions are verbs whith punctiliar
Aktionsart where the imperfective aspect is used. But the requirements to be
certain are that we can be sure that the verb really is punctiliar and that
we know which conjugation is imperfective. So, when you classify verbs as
signifying repeated action in the past on the basis of discourse analysis,
it seems to me that this may be circular, because there are no control
mechanisms.  It seems to me that v. 17 is of the same nature as vv. 18-20,
and if the actions of these verses are interpreted as repeated, that should
be the case with the actions in v. 17. Why should they not?


Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo



v. 17 (or the first part?)  you classify as historical narrative - one
nominal clause and one YIQTOL.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "B. M. Rocine" <brocine at twcny.rr.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2005 4:06 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Verbs, text-segmenting and clause-types


>
>
> Rolf Furuli wrote:
>
>> A fine test-case of temporal ambiguousness is Psalm 107.
>>
>
> I think you understand that I do not view the BH verb forms as tenses.
> On the other hand, I am not a Sperberite!  ;-)
>
> In a different post, I mentioned how critical it is to segment a poetic
> text to comprehend the variety of verb forms used (it is true for a
> prose text as well; it is just that the need to segment a poetic text is
> less well understood).  We should not assume that the verb forms
> represent one continuous string from the beginning of a poem to the end.
>
> In the other post I mentioned a mechanism by which to segment a poem,
> performance deixis.  In Psa 107, a different mechanism segments the
> poem; the performance deixis is consistent, bard > general audience,
> except for, perhaps, 29a, which is YHWH > storm.
>
> Here is a schemeatic representation of the psalm's structure:
>
>           _____
> Hortatory |
> Discourse |
>           |  _____
>           |  |
>           |  | Historical Narrative 1
>           |  |_____
>           |
>           |
>           |  _____
>           |  |
>           |  | Historical Narrative 2
>           |  |_____
>           |
>           |  etc.
>
> IOW, a Hortatory Discourse, which may be characterized by the
> exhortation, "Let them praise YHWH!" has embedded within it several
> Historical Narrative sections that provide reason to praise YHWH.
>
> In addition, some of the Historical Narratives have embedded within them
>   elaborative material that takes the form of other discourse types.
>
> *Within each section*, the distribution of the verb forms is mostly
> conventional, that is, mostly just as we observe in prose texts *based
> on discourse genre*.  IOW, in Historical Narratives we will find a
> wayyiqtol mainline, in Expository sections we will see a noun sentence
> and complex noun sentence (X-yiqtols and X-qatal) mainline, and in
> Hortatory Discourse we will see an imperative and clause-initial yiqtol
> mainline.
>
> Below is a verse by verse bracket diagram of Psa 107.  Note the pleasing
> parallelism between the embedded Nistorical Narratives.
>
> Abbreviations:
> H = Hortatory Discourse (makes exhortations)
> HN = Historical Narrative Discourse (tells a story in the past)
> E = Expository Dicourse  (explains a truth)
> P = Procedural Discourse (for repeated actions in the past)
>
>
>       _____
> 1  H  |
> 2     |
> 3     | ____
> 4     | | HN 1
>       | | ____
>       | | | E
> 5     | | |____
> 6a    | |
> 6b    | | P
> 7     | |____
> 8     |
> 9     | ____
> 10    | | HN 2
>       | | ____
>       | | | E
> 11    | | |____
> 12    | |
> 13a   | |
> 13b   | |__P__
> 14    |
> 15    |
> 16    | ____
> 17    | | HN 3
>       | | ____
>       | | | P
> 18a   | | |____
> 18b   | |
> 18c   | |
> 19a   | |
> 19b   | |__P__
> 20    |
> 21    |
> 22    | ____
> 23    | | HN 4
>       | | ____
>       | | | E
> 24    | | |____
> 25    | |
>      ___________
> 26   | Parenthetical H
> 27   |__________
> 28    | |
> 29a   | | YHWH's H
> 29b,c | |
> 30    | |_____
> 31    |
> 32    |
> 33    |
> 34    |
> 35    | ____
> 36    | | HN 5
> 37    | |
> 38    | |
> 39    | |
> 40    | |
> 41    | |____
> 42    |
> 43    |_____________
>
> Shalom,
> Bryan Rocine
>




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