[b-hebrew] Opinions on J. Wash Watts "A Survey of Syntax in the Hebrew Old Testament

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Wed Nov 30 13:27:10 EST 2011

> What I learned in class is that both perfects and imperfects can have a
> past, present and future tense.  ...  Watts' book
> suggests the aspect notion over time/tense. He says perfects are completed
> action and imperfects are continuous action.

Kevin, you might want to ponder on a BH datum:

Clauses with maHar 'tomorrow' never have 'qatal' or wayyiqtol' as
the main verb. Zero out of 52. That is fairly significant statistical
evidence that is against the prediction of 'aspect-only' or 'modal-
only' theories of the Hebrew verb.

While you are musing, please note
that I am not advocating 'time-only' either, I'm only pointing
out that time/tense seems to be involved in the underdifferentiated
Hebrew verb system, that is, underdifferentiated from an Indo-
Europeanan perspective: the Hebrew indicative only has a two-way
morphological distinction in simple indicative, two way distinction
in sequential-clauses (wyyqtl and wqtl), plus participles.

> Kevin,
> It seems the book you've got uses an Aktionsart approach
> ('type of action'), which has been largely left behind in grammatical
> analysis of Hebrew these days. It just doesn't work. Aspect is
> definitely where you need to head.

I disagree on two fronts.
I suspect that the issue is one of definition of the metalinguistic
terminology rather than substance. And as mentioned above,
'aspect-only' is definitely not where someone should head.

Randall Buth

Randall Buth, PhD
Biblical Language Center
Really Learn

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