[b-hebrew] Kamatz katan; Ashkenazi pronunciation; was: Translating

Peter Kirk peter at qaya.org
Fri Oct 6 05:39:46 EDT 2006

On 05/10/2006 20:10, Rolf Furuli wrote:
> ...
>   The important question, which seldom have been scrutinized, is: The morphological distinction, is it semantic (different semantic groups are distinguished) or is it pragmatic (basically represening function, i.e. past, present, and future reference /not "tense," which would be a semantic term/ and modality? ...

On the contrary, it has been scrutinised ad infinitum on this list. Do 
we really have to go through this again?

> ... The answer stands and falls with the view of WAYYIQTOL. As a matter of fact, the WAYYIQTOL did not exist before the Masoretes! ...

This is not a matter of fact but of your interpretation. Even if there 
was a real absence of evidence (and there is in fact plenty from 
apocopation, and from distinctions in translations in LXX etc), absence 
of evidence is not evidence of absence. There are plenty of things about 
ancient languages of which we don't have direct evidence, only more or 
less speculative reconstructions. The absence of evidence of how ancient 
peoples spoke is not evidence that they didn't speak!

> ... Thus, the narrative form with prefixed vaw would have a retracted stress, and future and modal forms would not. ...

This sounds like a phonetic distinction corresponding to a semantic 
distinction, which sounds to me like the distinction between two 
different verb forms which were rightly (if on your reconstruction 
somewhat perversely) marked by the Masoretes. Yes, I call the difference 
between past narrative actions and future and modal senses a semantic 
one. Again, maybe we can't prove it, but that is not evidence that it 
was not semantic, as it is in most modern languages for which we can 
prove such things with mother tongue speakers.

Peter Kirk
E-mail:  peter at qaya.org
Blog:    http://speakertruth.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.qaya.org/

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