[b-hebrew] re:mystery of the vav

Vadim Cherny vadimcherny at mail.ru
Wed Jun 1 12:20:23 EDT 2005

> Also, I'm not sure I understand >>At any rate, waw is the oldest device for
> creating future tense.>> Which "future tense" was created by a vav before
> any verbal form?

I mean that waw reversed past tense, likely the oldest verb form, into the future tense. Later, because of the confusion between waw-reversing and waw-conjunctive (wecatav. and he said vs. he will say), future tense became constructed in the modern form, from imperative, ctov - ichtov instead of wecatav.

> The "stressed vav" - as opposed to simple vav preceding the prefix
> conjucation which often marks what Jouun/Muraoka refer to as the indirect
> volitive - with doubling is what marks the wayyitqtol. Simply prefixing a
> vav would not demand any concommitant phonetic necessity. 

Well, I wouldn't be sure about that. In Russian, similar conjunctive prefix-preposition is certainly semi-stressed. Perhaps, semi-stress in waw-conjunctive is weaker than in waw-reversing, but it is likely present. True, waw-conjunctive is unstressed in nouns, but intonation is different in verbs.

> Changes in
> stress are certainly valid grammatical markers, e.g. English CONvict noun
> vs conVICT verb. But, without some consonantal marker, such as a vav or
> doubling, the change of stress would not be of much use in an unvoweled
> text. N'est pas? Or am I missing your point?

Now, I'm not sure I understood your point  :-)
Certainly, stress did not show in unvowelized text. It could be reconstructed from vowels, though, quite unambiguously (Ashkenazim had to change the vowels because they moved the stress).
I invoked stress only to explain Masoretic doubling after waw. Masoretes heard the semi-stress, and consequently heard the doubling.

Vadim Cherny

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