[b-hebrew] More on verbs

George Athas George.Athas at moore.edu.au
Wed Dec 12 06:43:39 EST 2012


When it comes to the Hebrew verbal system, I think there are two things that seriously need rethinking:

  1.  The perfective–imperfective polarity: I just don't think this works commonly enough to be the best explanatory model of aspect. I think Hebrew is working along a very different polarity of definite–indefinite.
  2.  Wayyiqtol as a past-tense verb: The whole idea that wayyiqtol represents past is based, as far as I can tell, on the European convention of translating narrative with past tense verbs, rather than the Hebrew verb itself. I do not, however, think the wayyiqtol is encoded for past tense, any more than the jussive (which is morphologically identical apart from the waw) is also past. I think the wayyiqtol makes much better sense as a kind of historical present—a 'live action' verb, which according to the old polarity, would make it imperfective.

There's my two cents worth. Now I'm off on vacation folks!

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays!

GEORGE ATHAS
Dean of Research,
Moore Theological College (moore.edu.au)
Sydney, Australia


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