[b-hebrew] Qal passives

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sun Jun 20 02:24:52 EDT 2010

On Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 11:23 AM, Randall Buth wrote:

> The MT has retained vocalizations like luqqaH and yuqqaH לֻקַּח יֻקַּח
> as well as yuttan יֻתַּן and 'ennenu ukkal' איננו אֻכָּל. [Note that this
> last form is a participle, and thus not pu`al, nor feminine like 'fire'.]
> This is remarkable because Aramaic had no internal qal passive, nor
> even a nifal. [Aramaic did have forms built off of the passive-perfect
> participle with cEc-I-c vowels.] And the BH vowels don't fit the Arabic
> passives, *luqiHa. They do not function as pu``als, and there are no
> pi``els attested for them to be passives to. From comparison with
> other Semitic languages it is clear that an internal Qal passive used
> to exist, but a qal would not have a lengthened middle consonant:
> either *luqaH or *luqiH. but not *luqqaH.
> So how can the dagesh in MT luqqaH be explained?
> Due to the nature of long and short vowels in unaccented syllables, the
> passive nature of these BH forms needed to develop a morphological/
> phonetic change during the biblical/post-biblical period. The phonetic
> lengthening of the consonant after the [u] vowel achieved this. But
> this resulted in a homonym with pu``al forms in the past/suffix tense
> and with hof`al in the future/prefix tense.

I would like to suggest that perhaps it is not an issue of phonetic change,
but of morphological leveling.  As internal Qal passives were increasingly
lost, especially under the influence of Aramaic that did not have them,
these were viewed not as a separate class by themselves but as an
exceptional form of the Pual and Hophal for some roots (just like yitpaqad
might be viewed as an exceptional form of the Hitpael).  Eventually,
morphological leveling had its way, and the unique forms of the Qal
passives were lost.

Yitzhak Sapir

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