[b-hebrew] Kamatz katan; was: Translating

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sat Oct 7 10:04:35 EDT 2006

Dear Rochelle,

Thank you for your interesting points. There are certainly traces of various
old notation systems, and the matres are instructive as well. However, as I
already stated, the difference between shewa and patah is the worst possible 
to mark an important
semantic difference, since their default pronunciation in Masoretic times
probably was similar. The fact that the matres used in the DSS almost never
represent shewa or patah illustrates the problem in identifying WAYYIQTOLS 
the DSS.

I have compared all the finite verbs in the Samaritan Pentateuch with the
MT, and I
found the same as Ben-Hayyim (2000:171):

"In their /the Samaritn/ tradition, as in the second column of Origen´s
Hexapla, there was no morphological distinction between what we know as waw
consecutive and waw conjunctive. Neither of them caused gemination of the
following consonant in the imperfect."

The real issue is whether WAYYIQTOL is a conjugation distinct from
YIQTOL/WEYIQTOL. The point I would like to stress is that we neither find
any morphological difference nor any semantic difference between WEYIQTOL
and WAYYIQTOL before the Masoretes.  I estimate than 93,1% of the WAYYIQTOLs 
53,4% of the QATALs in the MT have past reference, . This is the situation
that grammarians have not been able to fathom from the Middle ages and until
present: If the WAYYIQTOLs are nothing but YIQTOLs with prefixed
conjunctions, why are WAYYIQTOLs the primary form used in past narratives
together with the QATALs?

David Kimxi and scholars both before and after him were influenced by the 
tense system of Mishnaic Hebrew, and the tense systems in the languages that 
were spoken around them, as well as Arabic and Aramaic grammar. They only 
knew tense and not aspect and did not distinguish between past tense and 
past reference. Thus, they imagined a tense system with both QATAL  and 
WAYYIQTOL as past tenses. Semitic scholars in the 19th and 20th centuries 
did not distinguish between past tense and past reference, although this was 
a fundamental distinction for liuguists. These scholars knew the concept 
"aspect," but to this day this concept is defined by metaphors, by a mix of 
Aktionsart terms, or by obsolete expressions. Therefore, it is still 
impossible for the scholars to accept that some YIQTOL s refer to the 
present and many others (read: WAYYIQTOLs) to the past.

This semester my Ugaritic class reads the saga of Kirta, and I have used the 
opportunity to make a thorough study of the use of verbs. A starting 
approach to find which Hebrew verbs are used with past and future reference 
is to read about the construction of the temple. First we read what will be 
done, and then we read that it has been done. The principal verbs used in 
these accounts are YIQTOLs for the future and QATALs for the past. The saga 
of Kirta is an excellent place for the same approach regarding Ugaritic. 
Kirta has a dream, and it is described what will happen; then it is 
described how it happened. The interesting thing is that so many of the 
clauses with future reference are identical with the corresponding clauses 
with past reference to the smallest detail, including the verb forms. So far 
I have a list of 20 identical clauses, all having both past and present 
reference. In 11 of these the verbs are YAQTUL(U) (corresponding to Hebrew 
YIQTOL) and 9 have QATALA verbs (corresponding to Hebrew QATAL). In some 
cases it can be argued that the QATALA  verbs represent participles, since 
the morphology is similar (vowels are lacking). But a similar argument 
cannot be made regarding the YAQTUL(U) forms. This means that in Ugaritic 
texts scores upon scores of QATALA forms and YAQTUL(U) forms are used with 
past reference, and scores upon scores of YAQTULU forms are used with 
present and future reference, and some QATALA forms are used with present 
and future reference as well. Theis is a situation that is very similar to 
Hebrew narratives with WAYYIQTOLs and QATALs. And in Ugaritic one can hardly 
argue that there is a prefixed morpheme that changes the tense or aspects of 
certain verb forms. Many of the YAQTULU forms with past and present 
reference have the conjunction WA prefixed, but in most cases there is no 

A new approach where new parameters to describe tense and aspect are used 
can help explain why thousands of both imperfective verbs (WAYYIQTOLs) and 
perfective ones (QATALS) are used with past reference both in Hebrew and 
Ugaritic. Please note that the languages are very close. In my list of words 
from Kirta, between 70% and 80% of the Ugaritic words have Hebrew cognates.

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "rochelle altman" <willaa at netvision.net.il>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Saturday, October 07, 2006 10:41 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Kamatz katan; was: Translating

RF said:

>>  As a matter of fact, the WAYYIQTOL did not exist before the Masoretes!
>> By that I mean that it is impossible to distinguish between WEYIQTOLs
>> and WAYYIQTOLs in the DSS since many WEYIQTOLs in the MT are apocopated
>> just as are many WAYYIQTOLs. In the transcriptions of Origen´s Hexapla
>> the WAYYIQTOLs and WEYIQTOLs are transcribed similarly (no gemination
>> and the prefix transcribed as OU). The Masoretes obviously distingusihed
>> between YIQTOLs/WEYIQTOLs on the one hand and WAYYIQTOLs on the other.
>> But again, was this in their mind a semantic or a pragmatic distinction?
>> And, if there is no trace of this distinction before them, on which
>> basis did they make the distinction?

RISA: replies:

There are "traces." The very existence of "rival" nikkud systems
demonstrates that notational systems did exist prior to the Masoretes. In
fact, there is evidence that various notation systems did exist; the BCE
letters and scrolls supply concrete evidence.

The Elephantine papyri, for example, still show variant forms of consonants
to indicate which vowel was attached to a consonant. (Syriac Biblical texts
retained the variant forms.) And these variant forms appear in the DSS; for
example, !Qsa displays variant forms of sin/shin; aleph, bet, dalet, vav
(oh, all right, WAW), etc. as do the fragments of Exodus from Wadi
Murab'bat. And, as there is evidence of the notational system that
developed into the ta'anim in the DSS (at the very least the archaic forms
of tifcha, geresh, and gershaiim -- all of which are found in the early
Latin and Greek musical notation systems), it is quite possible that the
MSS that the Masoretes used had notation systems, whether variant forms or
archaic nikkud, that marked the difference between  YIQTOL/WEYIQTOL

What about Matres lectonis? They only appear in what someone, sometime or
another, thought to be ambiguous situations. In Square Script, WAW, after
all, is a bit of a problem to vary, so they vary it in the starting stroke
at the top of the letter. YOD is handled like the WAWI. Likewise, in Square
Script, HEH is also a bit of a problem, but it's use does not require a
variant form.. There are variant forms of ALEPH, but that, as HEH, WAW,
YOD, etc., dates back to Phoenician, so it's hardly surprising.

And, yes, I have written a bit on the variant forms in the DSS and hope to
be able to devote more time to that project within the next year. They
distinguished between shin and sin, too. The left-hand 'arm' on the shin is
from the side; in the sin, it runs straight down the center. The variants
are not meant to leap out at one; they are small, yet important,
differences in the way a letter is consistently formed.

BTW, when you state that Origen transcribed both "WAYYIQTOLs and WEYIQTOLs"
as OU, are you quite certain that there is no difference in the two forms
as-written? I do know that the Greek Phonetic Alphabet (GPA), from the
sixth BCE through the Byzantine period, had distinct forms of  upsilon,
used in, for example, between AV/OV and OU.

We do have evidence of how the words were pronounced prior to the
Masoretes, but it requires that we look at the originals, not editions -- 
and pay attention to consistent differences in letter forms; they have

Back to lurking,..


Dr. R. I. S. Altman

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