[b-hebrew] The use of the Yiqtol in Isaiah 1:21

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Apr 22 12:33:16 EDT 2009

On Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 7:16 PM, Joseph Justiss wrote:
> doesn't it at least force us to make a serious listen to the Richter's, Schneider's, and Taltra's who insist
> that the closest thing we can get to a living informant of these dead languages is the data gleaned from
> analysing the frequency and distribution of these verbal forms in the texts and proceed from form to
> function letting the data speak for itself?

This position seems odd to me.  Why do they rule out translations to
Greek and Aramaic which were done
by native speakers of the language, and which provide us first hand
knowledge of each verb (well, with
the exceptions of such textual issues as noted previously) and the way
the native speakers understood
those verbs.  In contrast, the current verbal forms are very
problematic in that the current vocalization was
used by people who at best spoke Late Rabbinic Hebrew.  Some important
distinctions in stress and
vocalization were lost as a result -- including things like passive
qal and the stress distinctions between
the preterite prefix form and the imperfect prefix form.  Now, we
might try to bypass that by using the
consonantal text of the DSS Biblical books only (thus ignoring
possible later modifications in the
consonantal text), but then we would not have the important
distinctions of the vowels that can
sometimes be instrumental in this effort.  So I think letting the
frequency and distribution "speak for itself"
actually is one of the farthest things we can get to a living
informant.  At best, it is allowing a very late
informant give his opinions -- something like a non-educated English
speaker today would try to help you
understand the morphology of Old English.

Yitzhak Sapir

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