[b-hebrew] b-hebrew Digest, Vol 40, Issue 24

John Cook jacook at eisenbrauns.com
Tue Apr 25 08:44:04 EDT 2006


Dear Moon,

Let me respond briefly in turn to your clarifying queries:

1) Yes, the wayyiqtol in Num 1:48 appears to be an isolated form, and if we are to understand a subnarrative it must be on the basis of the implicit, negative act of Moses refraining from numbering the Levites.  These characteristics are what make it so odd, and off the top of my head I cannot produce other like examples or this one would possibly be more easily explained.

2) Regarding qatal, again, we do not begin from like premises.  You seem to presume that x-qatal serves as background setting or as topic or focus of the X element, whereas I see BH as having an underlying Subject-Verb word order, and therefore, x-qatal, where x is subject, can be merely the default syntax rather than pragmatic topic or focus.  My expectation that wlbn ntn could occur in the Genesis 29 contexts is borne out of an understanding that such a construction would merely be disjunctive with the flow of narrative time---i.e., within the context of a string of wayyiqtols (and this is crucial---it is a contextual use of the form, not a sine qua non meaning), x-qatal often serves to state an event that lies outside that ongoing narrative time (much as perfect or past perfect in an English narrative of simple past---hence some of the reason why Hatav connects qatal to English perfect, though incorrectly I think). But we must admit that any statement of what could be expected here is in the realm of conjecture as we have no native speakers, so I won't pursue it any farther.

3) I'm not sure if Hatav is confused on this point or has simply confused you. In linguistic literature, the introduction of a new R-time is a way to refer to the advancement of narrative time---the two are not distinct. Temporal succession is not understood by any linguists that I have read as entirely pragmatic---it is a combination of semantic and discourse pragmatic elements. By contrast, foregrounding is completely pragmatic, although it patterns in some quite regular ways with certain semantic features, including temporal succession---and hence we are back around to the confusion that has prevailed in many linguistic and BH studies.

So I would again disagree with your conclusion that my approach is more of a "strait jacket" than Hatav's (though I'm still not entirely clear about the import of this metaphor), and I think Hatav would take issue with your portrayal of her understanding of temporal succession as merely pragmatic---it is semantic at its core, and exactly what constitutes the semantics of temporal succession (i.e., R-time movement/advancement) is what semanticians have been wrestling with for a quarter century.

Best,

John
> ------------------------------
> 
> Message: 3
> Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2006 07:52:11 +0900 (KST)
> From: <moon at sogang.ac.kr>
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] The Explicative use of wayyiqtol (To John Cook
> 	):	some clarifying questions
> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> Message-ID: <4326676.1145746331441.JavaMail.root at mail>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
> 
> John, thanks for the kind answers. Let me ask some clarifying questions.
> 
>  
> [Cook]
> 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. 
> 
> 
> => I assume that Num 1:48 is an isolated WAYYIQTOL. If we want to talk about a subnarrative,> 
> therefore,  we should talk about an one-event subnarrative. "The next action in the subnarrative --
> Moses did not number them" exists only implicitly, right? 
> 
> Also, could you please tell me some instances where X+QATAL is explained by a subnarrative consisting of more than one WAYYIQTOLs.  I am not talking about instances where X+QATAL establishes a setting for a subnarrative consisting of more than one WAYYIQTOLs.
> 
> [Cook]
> 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. 
> 
> => OK. But we can accept the phenomenon that X+QATAL is either connected to the previous sequence or  starts a new sequence by establishing a new setting. Also, it seems that in the former case,  X is  a fronted topic or a fronted focus. When X is a brand-new entity, X+QATAL is typically used to establish a new setting for a new sequence.  I said that WLABAN NATAN
> does not to fit in the context of  Gen 29:23-25a, 28-30a, because 
> the context does not provide any motivation to make LABAN a fronted topic or a fronted focus,
> nor  WLABAN NATAN would establish a new setting for the following sequence.
> 
> I think you know instances where X + QATAL is used even if the two contexts mentioned
> above do not apply? Could you tell me some?
>    
> [Cook]
> 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.
> 
> => Hatav could have been clearer on this point. But the semantic value she seems to attach to 
> WAYYIQTOL is that it always introduces a new R-time rather than using an pre-established
> one. It is "sequential" ONLY in the sense that it introduces a new R-time. Usually,
> the new R-time is after the previous event, but it does not need to. Temporal successtion and
> foregrounding are only "pragmatic" derivatives of this R-time introducing behavior. In this sense
> Hatav's scheme is "less tight" a jacket than yours which explicitly attaches a "pragmatic"
> value of foregrounding to  WAYYIQTOL. I hope I am clearer.
> 
> [Cook]
> I have a long-overdue forthcoming article in JANES responding to Joosten's earlier JANES article in this regard.
> 
> => Could I read a pre-print of this paper? 
> 
> Best wishes on your continued investigation of this intriguing matters. 
> 
> => Thanks. 
> 
> Sincerely Moon  Jung
> Professor
> Sogang Univ, Seoul, Korea
>  
> 
> ___________________ 
> John A. Cook 
> Editor, Eisenbrauns 
> 574-269-2011 ext. 240 
> 
> 
> 



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