[b-hebrew] WAYYIQTOL/YIQTOL/WEYIQTOL [was Kamatz katan; was: Translating]

rochelle altman willaa at netvision.net.il
Sun Oct 8 06:16:43 EDT 2006

Dear Rolf,

Thank you for your informative post. I do still have a question and a 
possible answer to one of yours..

>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."

Again, has anyone examined the extant fragments of the Hexapla to determine 
if the
form of the upsilon is the same in all cases?

Do note that the Greek upsilon originally employed all *FOUR** forms of 
Phoenician VAV. to denote phonetic values of vocalic U' and ''W'.as well as 
consonantal voiced V and unvoiced 'F. The fourth form, representing the 
unvoiced consonantal value F, was later discarded as unnecessary because of 
the existence of phi/phe;. Centuries later the Atticists dubbed the 
unvoiced consonantal vav  'a digamma.'

BTW, FOUR forms is correct. There are darned good reasons why I dislike 
referring to the VAV as WAW... the Phoenician writing system (and its 
borrowers) did distinguish among voiced and unvoiced consonantal and 
vocalic vavs!

Excuse the pun, but I am beginning to wonder just who or what is imperfect 
if the distinctions between voiced and unvoiced and vocalic and 
consonantal  VAVs written into the documents are ignored. (And they are not 
the only multiple forms ignored.)

The greatest irony of all this is that after 70 CE Hebrew writing systems 
began to standardize and eventually, over centuries, necessitated full 
vocalization notation while the Phoenician/Hebraic/Aramaic tradition was 
carried forth in the Christian writing systems.To this day,  the Romance 
and Germanic languages, for instance, use variant forms, only we dub them 
accents such as circumflex,grave, umlaut, etc..

BTW, Ayin, just as Latin  'O' and Greek Omega, do not have variant forms 
within a given script design They are the mensural base for all script 
designs -- whether Semitic or Indo-European..

>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
>and 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?

Well, tell you what, many years ago I was sitting with my then fiancee in 
the living room listening to a discussion of this precise point between my 
late father-in-law, Professor Morris Altman, and his friend, Professor 
Benno Landsberger. (To give an idea of just how long ago this was.) Of 
course Kimchi, et al. were mentioned.  My father-in-law, stated that the 
confusion over the VAYYIQTOL arose from the fact that the form denoted 
timelessness, hence necessarily encompassed past, present, and future all 
at once.After some thought, 'Old Landsberger' as my late husband 
affectionately called him, agreed that this seemed to be the case.

Hebrew lends itself to such word playing. And his assertion sure does solve 
the problems of when does it denote past or future; it means both. Its use 
in dreams makes his point self-evident. Dreams are outside normal time. 
Thus, yes, the VAYYIQTOL is a distinct conjugation. (And I strongly doubt 
that it was an invention of the Masoretes. Such a brilliant solution to the 
presentation of timelessness was not among their capabilities; You need a 
great songsmith for this type of genius.).

I have been enjoying this entire thread as it wiggled around.

Thanks again,



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