[b-hebrew] re:mystery of the vav

colin at s-m-i-t-h.com colin at s-m-i-t-h.com
Tue May 31 23:12:28 EDT 2005

> The derivation of the wayyiqtol verb is relevant to the discussion. The
likely origin of the
> form is that it was an innovation, combining vav with doubling
(assimilated nun?)
and an archaic
> preterite verbal form,

Everything was once an innovation. At any rate, waw is the oldest device for
creating future tense. Modern future tense, derived from imperative,
appeared much later.

Doubling is not an arbitrary innovation, but a phonetic necessity. waw,
just like
hey, is semi-stressed, and so there is post-tonic gemination.

Vadim Cherny

Innovations are what mark the distinctions between the various branches of
Semitic. Even accepting the use of 'tense' (please, let's not reopen that
discussion), the innovation of suffix forms is what distinguishes West
Semitic from East Semitic, which used prefix verbs exclusively for all
verbal nuances, whether they be considered tense/aspect - excluding the
stative forms in Akkadian.

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?

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. 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?

kol tov,

Colin Smith

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