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

John Cook jacook at eisenbrauns.com
Fri Apr 21 13:32:39 EDT 2006


Dear Moon,

Oy vey! I don't know if I have the time to address in sufficient detail your sundry remarks.  Let me respond with the following brief comments:

a) I do not claim to have completely explicated the verb in Num 1:48.  If it were easily solved we would not be discussing it, and we can multiply many more interesting examples such as it. I do think that the verb makes reference to a subnarrative in which God commands Moses not to number the Levites and he doesn't.  The difficulty is, arguably, that we only have one action of a narrative, whereas most would define a narrative as a sequence of actions.  Unfortunately, the next action in the subnarrative would logically be a negative one---Moses did not number them.  The solution is not perfect, admittedly, but it is satisfactory I think.

b) I can't really respond well to your second point because I don't agree with your premise.  You are presuming X-QATAL serves various purposes (a la Niccacci it would seem) and then wondering why my explanation does not fit your presumption.  It is simply because I don't buy into Niccacci's discourse approach to the BH verbal system.

c) I'm glad you find Hatav's system satisfying.  I admire much in her discussion. However, her treatment of WAYYIQTOL is a "tighter jacket" than mine (to use your phrase).  Not only does Hatav (1997) claim that WAYYIQTOL always introduces a new R-time (i.e., is temporally successive), but she claims that QATAL does not. In addition, although not explicit about this, she seems to follow her teacher Reinhart (1984) who assumes that temporal succession and foregrounding are mutually implicating, which would mean that Hatav and Reinhart claim that WAYYIQTOL is both temporally successive and foregrounding in every instance.  Confusion and inter-mingling of these two categories in analyses of WAYYIQTOL (and WEQATAL) were what I was seeking to address in my JSS article. The other exception I take to Hatav is that she analyzes WAYYIQTOL in terms of modal YIQTOL (2004).  Based on typological and historical data I argue both that YIQTOL is imperfective aspect, not modal (I have a long-overdue forthcoming article in JANES responding to Joosten's earlier JANES article in this regard), and that WAYYIQTOL evolved from a past tense *yaqtul base that has become partially homonymous with yiqtol in BH.  This is a fairly wide-spread view among Semitists.

Best wishes on your continued investigation of this intriguing matters.

John

___________________
John A. Cook
Editor, Eisenbrauns
574-269-2011 ext. 240



> ------------------------------
> 
> Message: 2
> Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2006 13:04:57 +0900 (KST)
> From: <moon at sogang.ac.kr>
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] The Explicative use of wayyiqtol (To John
> 	Cook)
> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> Message-ID: <18606414.1145592297189.JavaMail.root at mail>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
> 
> 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 
> 
> 



More information about the b-hebrew mailing list