[b-hebrew] The Explicative use of wayyiqtol (To John Cook)

moon at sogang.ac.kr moon at sogang.ac.kr
Fri Apr 21 00:04:57 EDT 2006


Dear John, 

many thanks for your answers to my post. I read your JSS article, and I enjoyed it very much. 

It makes a lot of sense that temporal succession is not explicitly marked in most 
languages, and what is marked is DEPARTURE from the default temporal succession. 
Your paper made this fact quite clear. 

But it is not easy for me to understand your new claim that WAYYIQTOL is a verb form for 
"foreground" information in the narrative. I sort of feel that your proposal is also "over-committed" 
claiming more about WAYYIQTOL than it bears, like the claim that WAYYIQTOL 
inherently marks temporal succession. 


Let's consider examples you mentioned, Num 1.48. Genesis 29:23-25a, 28-30a. 

(1) Num 1.48 

46 And all those who were numbered were 603,550. 47However, the Levites according to the tribe of their father were not numbered (X+QATAL) among them. 48Yhwh (had) directed (WAYYIQTOL) Moses saying, "Only the tribe of Levi you must not number (i.e., include in the census) . . . " 
49-53: "Continuation of commands" 
54: Thus the children of Israel did (WAYYIQTOL); according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so they did (X+QATAL) 

You said: 

the event of God's directive to Moses not to count the Levites is then expressed by WAYYIQTOL because it is the one salient event within the subnarrative explaining why the Levites were not counted in the census. 

Here, v 48 is NOT a one salient within the SUBNARRATIVE explaining why the Levites were not 
counted in the census. There is no subnarrative here, but only one WAYYIQTOL standing 
alone. vv 49-53 is simply the quotation of God's saying. v 54 is a summary of the chapter 1, 
and does not go with v 48. This example is different from Josh 24:32, 24:33, where 
a single stand-alone WAYYIQTOL occurs next to X+QATAL, but 
the WAYYIQTOL states something which FLOWS OUT OF THE CONTEXT set up by X+QATAL. 

Here in Num 1:48, the single stand-alone WAYYIQTOL does NOT flow out of the 
context set up by v 47. It simply states something which FLOWS INTO the statement in 
v. 47 by X+QATAL, which adds a sort of background/complementary information 
to the narrative of census in Num 1:46. Logically speaking, WAYYIQTOL in v. 48 
describes background to the QATAL statement in v. 47. 
Anyway, you would know what's my problem:-) 


(2) Genesis 29:23-25a, 28-30a 

You said: 

I think the WAYYIQTOL forms in these instances mark the giving of the maidservants as highly salient to the narrative---particularly poignantly expressed by being placed in the middle of the report of the consummation of each marriage. 

You also said in the article: 

In each of these excerpts the use of WAYYIQTOL to report Laban's gift of a maidservant 
seems out of place: we may justifiably expect a back-ground construction using QATAL, 
such as WLABAN NATAN. 

----------------

I find it hard to understand this second comment. X+QATAL may belong to the previous

narrative sequence or starts a new narrative sequence by providing the setting for the 

narrative. But in the context of  Gen 29:23-25a, 28-30a, WLABAN NATAN does not fit

in either role.  In the former case, X typically refers to the entity which the reader

would be interested to know about, given what the speaker said so far. The most famous

example would be WLABAN NATAN Gen   1:5ab: God called (WAYYIQTOL) the light  day, and the darkness God called (X + QATAL) night.  Having said that God called the light day, the speaker expects that the reader would be interested to know the answer to the 

question "what about the DARKNESS?".  So she goes on saying "The DARKNESS

God called night". But in the context of  Gen 29:23-25a, 28-30a,  the reader would not

raise an implicit question "what about LABAN?", so WLABAN NATAN does not fit.



In the second case, X + QATAL provides a setting for the following narrative sequence.

In the context of Gen 29:23-25a, 28-30a, there is no way that  WLABAN NATAN ,

provides a setting for the following narrative. So, WLABAN NATAN does not fit in the

context of Gen  29:23-25a, 28-30a, at all. So, the use of WAYYIQTOL in this context is NOT

marked. 





Having raised some questions about your proposal, I would like to mention Galia Hatav's

proposal.  In her book "The Semantics of Aspect and 
Modality" (1977) and Journal of Linguistics 2004 article, she claims that a WAYYITOL clause always introduces a NEW reference time which contains the event time of the clause. Though 
this New R-time introduced by WAYYITOL typically refers to the time "just after" the 
previous event, it does not have to. The new R-time can refer to sometime back in the 
narrative. Hatav posits less about the semantics of WAYYITOL than you. She does not say 
that by introducing a new R-time, WAYYITOL marks foreground information, although 
there is such tendency. 



 Her proposal for R-time introducing feature of WAYYITOL comes as a pair  with non-R-time introducing feature of QATAL.  


According to Hatav,  QATAL does not introduce a New R-time, but needs / refers to 
an already established R-time, typically the current R-time for the previous sentence. 

Hatav calls QATAL "parasite" verb for that reason. Another parasite verb is QOTEL

(progressive "tense"). 



But, as you also mentioned, there are cases when QATAL introduces a New R-time

moving the narrative/direct discourse  forward.  EG:  Gen 4:18, Gen 24:46, two QATALs in Gen 40:10 (gone up hath its blossom, its clusters have ripened grapes;) 



Every sentence needs the referencde time  to anchor

the claim of the sentence to the time line. Without the reference time,

it is impossible to interpret sentences fully. So, both WAYYIQTOL and QATAL

need the reference time. HATAV distinquishes two ways of getting the

reference time. One is to "build" a new reference time relative to the previously

built ones. This is the way of WAYYIQTOL. The other is to anchor to a previously 

established reference time. This is the way of QATAL. I think this distinction is 

important and contributes to the way the narrative is organized. 



But, Hatav's theory is based on the assumption that QATAL is quite

similar to the English perfect "tense", which indeed does not introduce

a new R-time, but can say several things in parallel about the given 

reference time. I do not think Hatav explained satisfactorily the 

counter-examples where QATAL introduces a new R-time. 



In sum, I think that Hatav's proposal is on the right track more than 

yours. The notion of foregroundness is too tight a jachet although

less tight than the notion of temporal succession. (But I do not

exclude the possibility that I like Hatav's proposal because I am

familiar to the paradigms and the notions that she uses, e.g. the reference time, the possible words, the file card semantics, discourse representation structures.) 



I would modify Hatav's hypothesis as follows:



(1) WAYYIQTOL's R-time building behavior: the same as Hatav

(2) QATAL:  

     (1)  X+QATAL is often used, when  X is the topic inferrable from the previous

           discourse about which the reader is expected to know. So, QATAL should

           have some features that cooperate with this topcalization behavior of 

            X+QATAL.  X + QATAL can talk about     various aspects of the "current"

          situation. These various aspects do not

           need to be background information. For example, in Gen 1:5ab, the v  

          1:5a and 1:5b are parallel, and so both are foreground in this context.

          I find it difficulto to take Niccacci's translation, 

         "God the called the light day, while he called

          the night darkness", which intends to convey that "while he

          called the night darkness" is background, complementary information.

  

      (2)  QATAL introduces a new R-time or uses a pre-established one.



           If  QATAL does not introduce a new R-time, it indeeds is capable to cooperate 

          with topicalization behavior of X+QATAL.

           Because it does  not move the narrative forward, it can talk about various aspects

          of the current situation. But, even when the R-time moves foward 

          according to the knowledge of the world, the speaker can organize

          a subsequence (WAYYIQTOL + X+QATAL)  which enters

          into the narrative as a unit.     



-----------------------------------------------------------

I know that QATAL's indeterminate behavior with respect to R-time building is quite

strange. But if it can explain phenomenon well, we can posit such a hypothesis.

That is the very procedure of doing science, as far as I know.



Sincerely

Moon-Ryul Jung

Sogang Univ, Seoul, Korea



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 


You have found an interesting passage that demonstrates the inadequacies of the conventional view that one of the semantic features of WAYYIQTOL is temporal succession (or sequential). I have argued in a JSS article that wayyiqtol is best understood as marking the most salient events in narrative, whether in the primary string of events or in flashback narration (Cook, John A. 
2004 The Semantics of Verbal Pragmatics: Clarifying the Roles of Wayyiqtol and Weqatal in Biblical Hebrew Prose. Journal of Semitic Studies 49/2: 247-73). 

Examples such as Num 1:48 as well as examples I offered in my article, such as Genesis 29:23-25a, 28-30a, demonstrate the saliency marking of WAYYIQTOL devoid of any clear sense of temporal succession. In the latter passages, a temporally successive interpretation leads to an odd sequence of events, whereby Laban gives each of his daughters a maidservant between the time that Jacob has gone in to them on their wedding night and the following morning. It seems doubtful that Laban would have taken such an inopportune moment to give his daughters maidservants. Instead, I think the WAYYIQTOL forms in these instances mark the giving of the maidservants as highly salient to the narrative---particularly poignantly expressed by being placed in the middle of the report of the consummation of each marriage. 

I would understand the slightly different situation in Num 1:48 similarly: the X-NEG-QATAL clause about the Levites not being included in the census introduces background information, negative clauses generally being less salient than positive clauses (universally speaking); the event of God's directive to Moses not to count the Levites is then expressed by WAYYIQTOL because it is the one salient event within the subnarrative explaining why the Levites were not counted in the census. 

One could translate the WAYYIQTOL in vs. 48 with a past perfect form, but that is according to the logic of the narrative, not necessitated by the form itself or the syntax of the passage. I would translate: 

46 And all those who were numbered were 603,550. 47However, the Levites according to the tribe of their father were not numbered among them. 48Yhwh (had) directed Moses saying, "Only the tribe of Levi you must not number (i.e., include in the census) . . . 

This may not explain the passage to everyone's satisfaction, but I think it makes fairly good sense out of what is going on. The main point I would like to emphasize is that we do not require some semantically marked temporally successive (or sequential) verb form in Hebrew any more than we do in English, German, etc. Temporal succession is a default characteristic of narration---unless we somehow mark an event as "out of sequence," the reader/listener will assume the events took place in the order they are reported. In this case, the logic of the order of the clauses along with the X-NEG-QATAL syntax signals that the events should not be understood in their default temporally successive order. 


John A. Cook 
Editor, Eisenbrauns 




> Moon-Ryul Jung wrote: 
> 
> Hi, let me send my message again, because the previous one was reported to contain 
> many wierd characters. 
> 
> Hhere have been many and in depth discussions on the sequential nature of 
> 
> WAYYIQTOL. The following is the quote from the archive of this list written by 
> 
> Prof. Niccacci: 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> The information conveyed by this wayyiqtol is USUALLY ALSO 
> CHRONOLOGICALLY sequential (or successive) to that of the preceding 
> wayyiqtol; however, there are cases of explicative wayyiqtol as well as of 
> resumptive wayyiqtol. This fact does not contradict the claim that 
> wayyiqtol is sequential; it only qualifies it. 
> 
> 
> -------------------------------- 
> 
> I would accept the above explanation even in the case where > 
> a single WAYYIQTOL occurs next to X+QATAL (e.g. Josh 24:32, 24:33) 
> as long as WAYYIQTOL states something which flows out of the 
> context set up by X+QATAL. I have no problem with 
> WAYYIQTOL which goes back to sometime in the narrative 
> and starts or resume a flash-back sequence of WAYYIQTOLs. 
> 
> I would accept the "summarizing" use of wayyiqtol, because the summarizing 
> 
> is a sort of conclusion which is a sort of logical entailment, which involves 
> 
> a sequence. 
> 
> 
> However, it is difficult for me to understand the case of Num 1:47-54 within a broad 
> or qualified sense of sequence: 
> 
> 
> 
> 47 The families of the tribe of Levi, however, were not counted (X + QATAL ) along with the others. 
> 48 The LORD had said to Moses (WAYYIQTOL): 
> 49-53 "You must not count the tribe of Levi or include them in the census of the other Israelites. ......." 
> 
> 54 The Israelites did (WAYYIQTOL) all this just as the LORD commanded Moses. 
> 
> 
> Verse 54 is an example of summarizing use of wayyiqtol, which summarizes 
> 
> all things mentioned in the chapter 1 before that verse. So, verse 54 is not a part of 
> 
> a sequence started by WAYYIQTOL of verse 48. So, we have here a stand-alone 
> 
> single WAYYIQTOL in v 48. This stand-alone single WAYYIQTOL does not form a sequence, 
> 
> because v 48 DOES NOT FLOW out of the context set up by X + QATAL in v 47. 
> In this context, WAYYIQTOL in 48 explains the reason for the situation described in 
> v 47. To use Niccacci's classification, X + QATAL in v 47 belongs to the previous 
> sequence, but does not set up a new context for the following sequence. 
> 
> In sum, WAYYIQTOL in v 48 does not start a new sequence of flash-back nor 
> form a sequence with respect to the context set up by X + QATAL. It simply provides 
> an explanation for v. 47 by remembering a previous commandment of the Lord to 
> Moses. In other words, this WAYYIQTOL occurs in a context which is not 
> sequential in any sense. 
> 
> Can we explain this "explicative use" of WAYYIQTOL within the paradigm of 
> broadly understood sequence, as Niccacci seems to believe? 
> 
> I know that Bruce Waltki and O'Connor, in his book ( p. 547), claim that 
> two orthogonal properties of wayyiqtol is subordination and perfective aspect. 
> Under the notion of subordination, they include succession (temporal and logical) 
> and epexegesis (explanation) (e.g. 2 Sam 14:5, Ruth 2:3). 
> 
> But for me, it is hard to understand in what sense both succession and epexegesis 
> can be lumped together under the notion of subordination. If "X is subordinated to 
> Y" means here that "X is related to Y", then the concept seems too broad and so 
> vacuous, because every sentence occurring in a narrative is somehow related to its neighbors. 
> 
> Any way out? 
> 
> 
> Moon-Ryul Jung 
> 
> Sogang Univ, 
> 
> Seoul, Korea 





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