[b-hebrew] Tense

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Thu Dec 13 16:03:15 EST 2012


Your classroom test below is a good piece of humor, thanks.

“…with usage, the past tense became its primary function.” What time period
are we talking about? Post-Biblical Hebrew, which, from what I read, had
been transformed to a tense base language by the Mishnaic period? How does
that fit Hebrew from the Biblical era?

Another question that has not been answered so far, what percentage of the
Wayyiqtols in Tanakh are found in historical narratives, past tense
contexts? 90%? Shouldn’t we then weight the 6.9% of non-past Wayyiqtols
much more heavily when analyzing whether or not Wayyiqtol is a marker for
past tense? In other words, if we give each semantic use of Wayyiqtol one
vote, would the 90% of Wayyiqtols used in historical narrative get only one
vote, thereby showing that merely the raw numbers give a lopsided view?

Karl W. Randolph.

On Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 11:11 AM, Jerry Shepherd <jshepherd53 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Hi Karl,
> Again, as I said in an earlier post, no one ever sat down and determined
> that in the Hebrew language, a wc+imperfect would equal past tense.  I
> would, however, argue that, with usage, the past tense became its primary
> function.
> If I were to give my Hebrew students a test in which I simply listed 100
> wc+imperfects, chosen randomly fronm the Hebrew Bible, and asked the
> students to translate them into English, and give them a past, present, or
> future time reference, if a student translated all of them using the past
> tense, then according to Rolf's statistics given in an earlier post, the
> student would score 93.1 on the exam.  I think the student would be pretty
> happy with that.
> Blessings,
> Jerry
> Jerry Shepherd
> Taylor Seminary
> Edmonton, Alberta
> jshepherd53 at gmail.com
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