[b-hebrew] Tense

Rolf rolf.furuli at sf-nett.no
Fri Dec 14 02:09:17 EST 2012

Dear John,

You wrote:

JAC: So your point is . . . ? Your defense would appear to amount to (1) "I've studied a whole lot of the verbs, so my view has merit and should be respected and not challenged" and (2) "You take your view, I take mine, lets leave it at that." One can claim to have walked 100 miles to get somewhere, but if you walked the wrong direction there is no merit in that! So we are back to our most basic difference, which would seem to be that I on the one hand think that certain theories and explanations are superior to others, and your view, that seems to want to simply let every theory that people have worked hard on stand and at the same time admit we'll never understand the verbal system. I prefer my position to yours if we are to make any real advancement in our knowledge.

RF: You have completely misunderstood my point:

When I, after a study of thousands of verbs on the basis of fundamental linguistic parameters, reached my conclusions as to the meaning of the Hebrew conjugations, and I use these conclusions in my translation of Hebrew clauses, it is completely wrong by any standard to say that I "force preconceived notions upon the text."  This is deragatory language!
This is so, because, 1) conclusions drawn after a long study cannot be termed "PRECONCEIVED notions," and 2) the applications of one's conclusions in the translation of clauses is a normal procedure and cannot be called "to FORCE something (preconceived notions) onto the text."

I have never said that my conclusions should not be challenged. To the contrary, I welcome challenges, because I do not think that I have the final answers. I believe that I have followed a good scientific approach, and that my conclusions are reasonable and sound. But the value of these conclusions will be visible when they are challenged. 

In connection with your comments on my translation of Genesis 2:19, I wrote in a previous post: "Your translations and comments are based on your study of Hebrew verbs and the conclusion that WAYYIQTOL is past tense and perfective, and my translations and comments are based on my study of Hebrew verbs and the conclusion that YIQTOL and WAYYIQTOL are equivalent and represent the imperfective aspect." 

These word do not mean that I say; "Leave me alone and do not challenge my conclusions." The words must be understood in their context. When Karl referred to the verbs of Proverbs 31, your comment was that the YIQTOLs of the past setting represented "durative past." (The term "durative past" is a misnomer, because durativity is a lexical property and not an aspectual one—a verb in any conjugation that is marked for durativity will always remain durative—but I understand what you mean.) Why did you use the term "durative past"? Because the context of Proverbs 31 shows that the force of the YIQTOLs is different from the force of the WAYYIQTOLs or the QATALs? Absolutely not. (Correct me if I am wrong). You used the term because of your understanding of the Hebrew conjugations: YIQTOL  in a past context is different from a YIQTOL in a future context. Genesis 2:19 can be put in the same situation as Proverbs 31; we cannot know whether my imperfective translation or your preterit/perfective translation is correct. This is the situation with most of the WAYYIQTOLs, because most WAYYIQTOLs occur in narrative contexts. Therefore, in these contexts we cannot proceed further. So here we must leave one another alone.

What we need to do, and where the challenge should be, is to find contexts where we can see if WAYYIQTOL  is imperfective, perfective or preterit. I will return to that.

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list