Is waw Consecutive (wayyiqtol) perfective or imperfective?

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R.J. Furuli
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Is waw Consecutive (wayyiqtol) perfective or imperfective?

Postby R.J. Furuli » Sun Nov 26, 2017 7:18 am

Dear listmembers

Karl Randolph wrote:

I agree with Jason here, that the same rules of grammar apply. There are plenty of examples in Tanakh of a “waw-consecutive” referring to a concurrent action. The most famous that I can think of right away are found in Proverbs 31:11–31.


Steve Miller wrote as a comment:

I think you meant to say you agree with me that the same rules of grammar apply to prophecy as to narrative.
But your interpretation agrees with Jason's much more than with mine.
I read Prov 31:11-31 and I don't see any waw-consecutives there which are not sequential. Notably, for actions that are concurrent there, waw-consecutives are not used.


I took these quote from the thread: When was the book of Daniel written? The issue deserves its own thread.

The nature of the narrative requires that the reference of the verbs is past—one event follows the other, and each event is past rin relation to the next event. One elementary approach in linguistics when the parts of a language is studied, is to distinguish between semantic meaning (intrinsic meaning of the form) and conversational pragmatic implicature (meaning caused by the context). Even if this is on the most elementary level of linguistics, I am not aware of a single study in any of the old Semitic languages that applies this distinction except my doctoral dissertation. I will now give an outline as to how I understand the issue of wayyiqtol.

I will apply the distinction to the wayyiqtol form by asking the question: The past reference of the wayyiqtol form used in narratives, is it an intrinsic part of the wayyiqtol form (its semantic meaning) or is it caused by the context (conversational pragmatic implicature)?

As we previously have discussed, no Hebrew verb form has a uniform reference to the past, present, or future. Therefore, tense is lacking in Hebrew. But what about aspects? We should keep in mind that the nature of the actions is caused by the aktionsart of the verbs together with the context. Aspects have nothing to do with the actions of a verb, whether it is completed or continuing—this is caused by aktionsart and context. Aspects can be compared to the lense of a camera; depending of the distance between the camera and the object and a small or big opening of the lense, different pictures will emerge. So aspect is a “lense” that makes visible an action that already is there; it makes visible a part of it with details visible or a bigger part or the whole without details visible.

My analysis concludes that contrary to most languages where the perfective aspect is used in narratives, the linguistic convention in Classical Hebrew is that the imperfective aspect is used in narratives. Hebrew verbs are expressed as prefix forms and suffix forms, and my analysis shows that yiqtol, wayyiqtol, and weyiqtol all are imperfective, and there is no semantic difference between the three. And similarly, qatal and weqatal are perfective, and there is no semantic difference between the two. The seemingly difference between yiqtol, wayyiqtol, and weyiqtol is pragmatic—there is no difference at all. The different stress pattern, germination at the beginning, and apocopation in the wayyiqtol in contrast with yiqtol and weyiqtol are a function of the phonological rules of the Masoretes. The wayyitol is a normal yiqtol with a prefixed waw (and). So, what causes the past reference of wayyyiqtol used in narratives basically is the waw (and) and the context (conversational pragmatic implicature).

I will illustrate the issue by a comparison with two cognate languages. A few years before I retired, I taught four semesters of Ugaritic. The Ugaritic corpus is very small, and during the semesters we read mor than half of all the extant Ugaritic documents in class. This showed a special pattern in the use of the verbs. Several accounts, for example The account of Keret (Kirta) first described in detail actions that would be taken in the future (not prophecies), and then followed a detailed description of the same actions that now were past. And most interesting, the same words in the same verb forms in the prefix conjugation were used both for the future and the past. This indicates that the imperfective aspect can be used for verbs with past reference as well as future reference.

In the Phoenician language, the narrative verb form that is used is infinitive absolute. In the 40 lines of the narrative of The Karatepe Inscription, there are 21 infinitive absolutes, 12 qatals, and 6 weqatals. Of the 21 infinitive absolutes, 16 have a prefixed waw, the tool to shows the past reference and move the narrative forwards. This shows that it is not the verbal aspect, or a particular verb form (in Phoenician, infinitive absolute) that causes the past reference, but pragmatic factors.

I will then discuss Proverbs 31:10-31. There are 9 wayyiqtols, 8 yiqtols, and 18 qatals, 2 passive participles and 1 active participle. All, or most of these verbs, have the same present reference. There is an enormous use of waw (and) in Hebrew. On reason for the choice of yiqtol versus wayyiqtol is whether a word element precedes the verb or not. If such a word element precedes tha verb, waw cannot be prefixed, which it would have been if the word element was not there. In these verses, לֹֽא occurs before a yiqtol four times, so waw cannot be prefixed, and other elements occur before the other yiqtols as well.

When the mentioned conjugations are used with the same present reference, does this mean that there is no sematic difference between yiqtol and qatal? Absolutely not; there is a clear difference in meaning. But this can only be seen by a detailed analysis of the nuances and subtleties in a text. There is much more to a text than temporal reference, that is so important for us westerners. There are issues of theme (topic) rheme (comment), emphasis, parallism, and even to some extent rhyme and rhytm. Moreover, the aktionsart or stem of some verbs in some contexts may prefer one particular conjugation. In addition to this, there may be different requirements of precision in different contexts. There are specific differences between the prefix forms (imperfective) and the suffix forms (perfective). But there are also similarities. In some contexts, it is only necessary to make visible the broad picture of one or more actions and both aspects with their similarities can be used to achieve that. In other contexts, to make details visible are necessary, and just one of the aspects (the imperfective one) can be used.

Unfortunately, Hebrew textbooks and grammars disagree as to the meaning of the Hebrew verb conjugations, and many misleading expressions have been used to describe these conjugations. In order to get a good understanding of the conjugations a time-consuming study is needed. But because the verbal system is the backbone of any language, such a study will be rewarding indeed.


Best regards,

Rolf J. Fururli
Stavern
Norway

kwrandolph
Posts: 814
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: Is waw Consecutive (wayyiqtol) perfective or imperfective?

Postby kwrandolph » Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:17 pm

Dear Rolf:

While I agree with much of what you say, your non-standard use of terminology makes it much harder 1) to understand what you are saying and 2) much harder to interact and discuss these ideas with you.

R.J. Furuli wrote:As we previously have discussed, no Hebrew verb form has a uniform reference to the past, present, or future. Therefore, tense is lacking in Hebrew. But what about aspects? We should keep in mind that the nature of the actions is caused by the aktionsart of the verbs together with the context. Aspects have nothing to do with the actions of a verb, whether it is completed or continuing—this is caused by aktionsart and context. Aspects can be compared to the lense of a camera; depending of the distance between the camera and the object and a small or big opening of the lense, different pictures will emerge. So aspect is a “lense” that makes visible an action that already is there; it makes visible a part of it with details visible or a bigger part or the whole without details visible.


The above paragraph is a case in point. Within linguistics, the technical term “aspect” is a measure of time, but a measure of time different from tense. The same is true of “perfective” and “imperfective”. I have never heard “perfective” and “imperfective” used outside of linguistic analysis, but “aspect” is used in a non-technical sense in the wider public, and in the non-technical sense the Qatal and Yiqtol forms express different “aspects” of the Hebrew language.

What you describe as “aspect” sounds much more like modality or mood http://glossary.sil.org/term/mood-and-modality than it does the technical term “aspect” http://glossary.sil.org/term/aspect

R.J. Furuli wrote:I will then discuss Proverbs 31:10-31. There are 9 wayyiqtols, 8 yiqtols, and 18 qatals, 2 passive participles and 1 active participle. All, or most of these verbs, have the same present reference. … When the mentioned conjugations are used with the same present reference, does this mean that there is no sematic difference between yiqtol and qatal? Absolutely not; there is a clear difference in meaning. But this can only be seen by a detailed analysis of the nuances and subtleties in a text. There is much more to a text than temporal reference, that is so important for us westerners.


Western linguists who have grown up using Indo-European languages that are centered around temporal references in their conjugations (modern Israeli Hebrew is a western language in this regard) seem to find it very difficult to grasp that a language can have no reference to time—neither tense nor the technical use of “aspect”—in its conjugations.

R.J. Furuli wrote:There are issues of theme (topic) rheme (comment), emphasis, parallism, and even to some extent rhyme and rhytm. Moreover, the aktionsart or stem of some verbs in some contexts may prefer one particular conjugation. In addition to this, there may be different requirements of precision in different contexts. There are specific differences between the prefix forms (imperfective) and the suffix forms (perfective). But there are also similarities. In some contexts, it is only necessary to make visible the broad picture of one or more actions and both aspects with their similarities can be used to achieve that. In other contexts, to make details visible are necessary, and just one of the aspects (the imperfective one) can be used.


I find that when I substitute “modality” for where you use “aspect”, “Qatal” for where you use “perfective” and “Yiqtol” for where you use “imperfective”, that I can agree with much, if not most, of what you write. Your non-standard use of terms gives difficulties.

R.J. Furuli wrote:Unfortunately, Hebrew textbooks and grammars disagree as to the meaning of the Hebrew verb conjugations, and many misleading expressions have been used to describe these conjugations. In order to get a good understanding of the conjugations a time-consuming study is needed. But because the verbal system is the backbone of any language, such a study will be rewarding indeed.


I had to unlearn much of what I was taught in Hebrew class concerning Hebrew grammar. And I back up Dr. Furuli’s claim that it’s a time-consuming study. For me, it was only after reading Tanakh through five or six times, cover to cover, that I came to the conclusion that Biblical Hebrew conjugations have no time value. Maybe I’m just a slow learner, or maybe even a slower unlearner, but I find that it’s a rare professor who has put in the time needed for such a study.

From my experience, “First year lies” is more than just a joke.

R.J. Furuli wrote:Best regards,

Rolf J. Fururli
Stavern
Norway


Karl W. Randolph.

R.J. Furuli
Posts: 64
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:51 am

Re: Is waw Consecutive (wayyiqtol) perfective or imperfective?

Postby R.J. Furuli » Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:18 am

Karl Randlph wrote:

While I agree with much of what you say, your non-standard use of terminology makes it much harder 1) to understand what you are saying and 2) much harder to interact and discuss these ideas with you.


I am not using sub-standard terminolgy; all the terms I use will be readily understood by any linguist. Moreover, I defined the basic terms in my previous post.

The above paragraph is a case in point. Within linguistics, the technical term “aspect” is a measure of time, but a measure of time different from tense. The same is true of “perfective” and “imperfective”. I have never heard “perfective” and “imperfective” used outside of linguistic analysis, but “aspect” is used in a non-technical sense in the wider public, and in the non-technical sense the Qatal and Yiqtol forms express different “aspects” of the Hebrew language.

What you describe as “aspect” sounds much more like modality or mood http://glossary.sil.org/term/mood-and-modality than it does the technical term “aspect” http://glossary.sil.org/term/aspect


The SIL definition of modality is very fine. Another way to define modality is: Indicative describes actions in this world, while modality describes actions in a supposed world. I agree with you that both tense and aspect express time or make time visible. I have already stated that tense represents deictic time, which means that tense is related to a deictic center (C). Tense describes actions or states before C (past tense), contemporaneous with C (present reference), and after C (future tense). Aspect represents non-deictic time, because it is not anchored to a deictic center. That is difficult to grasp for an English speaker, because the English language requires an expression of tense or present reference in evry clause. The word “walking” represents the imperfective participle in English. Example 1) is a true aspectual expression, but it is ungrammatical in English. We need a time marker to express grammatical sentences in English, as in 2), 3), and 4).

1) * John walking
2) John was walking.
3) John is walking
4) John will be walking

Another important difference between tense and aspect is that tense is objective while aspect is subjective. Tense expresses objective actions that have a duration. Aspect does not express objective actions. But it focuses on a part of an objective action that already is there, for example the first part of the action, or a part after the beginning and before the end of the action. The subjective nature of aspect may be the reason why you see modality in my descriptions. Both aspect and modal expressions are subjective. But the difference is that aspect is a subjective choice by a writer to make visible a part of an action that already exists in this world, while modal expression is a subjective choice to express an intention regarding an action in a supposed world, a world that does not yet exist.

I share your view regarding Western linguists. While we as English speakers know the meaning of the parts of that language, we are not native speakers of Hebrew who intuitively knows the meaning of the parts of Classical Hebrew. Therefore, we need to look for clues indicating the meaning of the parts of Hebrew.

The verb in 5) is wayyiqtol, which I claim is imperfective just as yiqtol. The renderings in almost all Bible translations “he began to build the house/temple” indicate that this verb is imperfective. The beginning of an action and the first part of it is made visible. And please note that the action has materialized; it is not an intention. But only the first part of the action is made visible. Why could we not render the text this way: “he built the house/temple”? There are three reasons, 1) the time adverbial, 2) our knowledge of the world, and 3) the nature of the imperfective aspect (wayyiqtol). The time adverbial restricts the building action to one year; the context shows that it took more than one year to build the temple; the imperfective aspect is used. In this verse, a qatal would cloud the meaning, because it represents the perfective aspect that does not reveal a part of an action with details visible. However, in connection with states, a qatal can signal the entrance into a state (e.g. Solomon became king)—the same conjugations with states and actions give different meanings.

Example 6) is modal, because it expresses the intention of Cyrus of Persia. The building action was not happening—it had not started—in this world. But Cyrus suggested his intention to ask someone to build Jerusalem. This means that the verse speaks about a hypothetic situation, a situation that may happen in a different supposed world.

5) In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites had come out of Egypt…he began to build the house (temple) for YHWH (1 Kings 6:1)
6) He will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be built.” (Isaiah 44:28)

If you take the Hebrew conjugations as modal expressions, you in reality say that the text of the Tanach is irreal. The actions described by the verbs have not yet happened, but the intention is that they will happen in a supposed world. This means that Genesis 1:1 does not mean that the heaven and earth were created in the beginning; it only means that God had the intention to create the heaven and earth when Genesis was written.

There is one important thing regarding Hebrew conjuations that I did not mentione in my last post, namely the role played by the recitation of the text in the Synagogue. We must keep in mind that the accents in the Masoretic text are cantillation marks— they both mark stress and the tone of the recitation. It is evident that a recitation of consecutive actions in the past, was made differently, as far as stress and tone are concerned, compared with the recitation of the Psalms. Actions in the future expressed by weqatal may also be recitated differently compared with the recitation of the poetic books. The differences between the "five" conjugations is basically related to stress patterns, and gemination and apocopation as a result of different stress patterns. So, the recitation in the synagogoue can partially explain why there seemingly are five different conjugations in Hebrew, when there in reality are just two different conjugations.


Best regards,

Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway

kwrandolph
Posts: 814
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: Is waw Consecutive (wayyiqtol) perfective or imperfective?

Postby kwrandolph » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:06 pm

R.J. Furuli wrote:Karl Randlph wrote:

While I agree with much of what you say, your non-standard use of terminology makes it much harder 1) to understand what you are saying and 2) much harder to interact and discuss these ideas with you.


I am not using sub-standard terminolgy;


I did not write “sub-standard”, rather I wrote “non-standard”. There is a difference.

R.J. Furuli wrote:all the terms I use will be readily understood by any linguist. Moreover, I defined the basic terms in my previous post.


If you used your terms in the standard sense, you wouldn’t need to define your terms each time you post. If you want to express an idea that isn’t covered by the standard terminology, wouldn’t it be better to coin a neologism than to confuse by using a standard term in an idiosyncratic manner?

R.J. Furuli wrote:
The above paragraph is a case in point. Within linguistics, the technical term “aspect” is a measure of time, but a measure of time different from tense. The same is true of “perfective” and “imperfective”. I have never heard “perfective” and “imperfective” used outside of linguistic analysis, but “aspect” is used in a non-technical sense in the wider public, and in the non-technical sense the Qatal and Yiqtol forms express different “aspects” of the Hebrew language.

What you describe as “aspect” sounds much more like modality or mood http://glossary.sil.org/term/mood-and-modality than it does the technical term “aspect” http://glossary.sil.org/term/aspect


The SIL definition of modality is very fine. Another way to define modality is: Indicative describes actions in this world, while modality describes actions in a supposed world.


Indicative is a modality. Both Qatal and Yiqtol are used for the indicative modality, but there’s a difference in how they express the indicative modality.

R.J. Furuli wrote:I agree with you that both tense and aspect express time or make time visible.


In that case, then you agree that Biblical Hebrew conjugates for neither tense nor aspect. In that perfective and imperfective are types of aspect, then Biblical Hebrew doesn’t conjugate for perfective nor imperfective either.

R.J. Furuli wrote:… Aspect represents non-deictic time, because it is not anchored to a deictic center. That is difficult to grasp for an English speaker, because the English language requires an expression of tense or present reference in evry clause.


True not only of English, but of all modern Germanic and Romance languages, and even of modern Israeli Hebrew. That is possibly the major reason why even Hebrew scholars have such a hard time recognizing that a language can conjugate for neither tense nor aspect.

R.J. Furuli wrote:Another important difference between tense and aspect is that tense is objective while aspect is subjective.


Not true when using standard terminology. Both are equally objective.

Tense refers to what you call the diectic center, or in common English where on the time line.

Aspect refers to the duration of the action, and whether or not the action is finished, periodic, ongoing, etc. That is an objective measure of time, an objective measure that is different from tense.

R.J. Furuli wrote:… Both aspect and modal expressions are subjective. But the difference is that aspect is a subjective choice by a writer to make visible a part of an action that already exists in this world, while modal expression is a subjective choice to express an intention regarding an action in a supposed world, a world that does not yet exist.


Using the terms I was taught when I studied linguistics, and for which I use SIL definitions as a reference, the above paragraph makes no sense. I have to enter an alternate reality and redefine terminology to make heads or tails of what you just wrote. That’s what I mean by your non-standard use of terminology.

R.J. Furuli wrote:The verb in 5) is wayyiqtol, which I claim is imperfective just as yiqtol. The renderings in almost all Bible translations “he began to build the house/temple” indicate that this verb is imperfective. The beginning of an action and the first part of it is made visible. And please note that the action has materialized; it is not an intention. But only the first part of the action is made visible. Why could we not render the text this way: “he built the house/temple”? There are three reasons, 1) the time adverbial, 2) our knowledge of the world, and 3) the nature of the imperfective aspect (wayyiqtol). The time adverbial restricts the building action to one year; the context shows that it took more than one year to build the temple; the imperfective aspect is used. In this verse, a qatal would cloud the meaning, because it represents the perfective aspect that does not reveal a part of an action with details visible. However, in connection with states, a qatal can signal the entrance into a state (e.g. Solomon became king)—the same conjugations with states and actions give different meanings.


Here the imperfective aspect is carried not by the conjugation of the verb, rather by the context. There are many, many other uses of the Yiqtol to refer to the perfective aspect. Therefore, Yiqtol is not a conjugation indicating imperfective aspect.

The obverse is also true, that there are many places where the Qatal is used to refer to the imperfective aspect, which makes the Qatal not a marker for the perfective aspect either.

R.J. Furuli wrote:Example 6) is modal, because it expresses the intention of Cyrus of Persia. The building action was not happening—it had not started—in this world. But Cyrus suggested his intention to ask someone to build Jerusalem. This means that the verse speaks about a hypothetic situation, a situation that may happen in a different supposed world.


It’s not “a different supposed world”, rather intent, which is one of the modalities included in the use of the Yiqtol in Biblical Hebrew.

R.J. Furuli wrote:If you take the Hebrew conjugations as modal expressions, you in reality say that the text of the Tanach is irreal.


Most of the verbs in Tanakh are in the indicative mood, which is a model expression. Even you admit above that the indicative mood, which is a modality, is not irreal.

R.J. Furuli wrote:… We must keep in mind that the accents in the Masoretic text are cantillation marks …


The Masoretic points are irrelevant to a study of Biblical Hebrew. They were invented over a thousand years after Biblical Hebrew ceased to be a natively spoken language, they represent a different pronunciation and were an attempt by the Masoretes to use their second language of Tiberian Hebrew, a language that has a different grammar and many terms that have different meanings from Biblical Hebrew, as a gateway to understanding Tanakh.

R.J. Furuli wrote:Best regards,

Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway


Let’s look at Exodus 5:2 looking at the uses of the verbs:

ויאמר פרעה Part of narrative, therefore has past reference. That was a one time event that is completed, therefore perfective aspect. Modality indicative.

מי יהוה Verbless clause, but within its context refers to present, ongoing action, indicative mood.

אשר אשמע בקלו Within its context, present, ongoing action, subjunctive mood.

לשלח את ישראל  Infinitive clause.

לא ידעתי את יהוה Present, ongoing action, indicative mood.

וגם את ישראל לא אשלח At the time he said it, Pharaoh had no intent to allow Israel to leave Egypt, so this indicates present, ongoing action but the modality indicates intent.

Everywhere I wrote “present, ongoing action” if Hebrew conjugated for tense and aspect, the conjugations would be present tense, imperfective aspect.

But the ways that Qatal and Yiqtol are used to indicate the indicative modality differ, so I coined neologisms to make my understanding clearer. Qatal indicates “primary-indicative” while the Yiqtol indicates “secondary-indicative”. Now that I have neologisms, I can define them without causing confusion.

My criticism still stands: your non-standard use of terminology confuses and makes it much harder to deal with your ideas.

Yours, Karl W. Randolph.

R.J. Furuli
Posts: 64
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:51 am

Re: Is waw Consecutive (wayyiqtol) perfective or imperfective?

Postby R.J. Furuli » Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:46 am

K.W. Randolph wrote

Indicative is a modality. Both Qatal and Yiqtol are used for the indicative modality, but there’s a difference in how they express the indicative modality.


When we discuss language, each participant should define his use of terms, so we know what we are speaking about.

Oxford Dictionaries have the following definitions
Indicative:
“Denoting a mood of verbs expressing simple statement of a fact.
Subjunctive:
“Relating to or denoting a mood of verbs expressing what is imagined or wished or possible.”
Modal verb:
“An auxiliary verb that expresses necessity or possibility. English modal verbs include must, shall, will, should, would, can, could, may, and might.”

The term “mood” can be used as a governing term, under which indicative, subjunctive, jussive, and cohortative, imperative can be subsumed. In that situation it relates to the mood of the speaker. The terms "mood" and "modal" can also be used as a contrast to Indicative. I use the term "modal" in this sense: Indicative refers to declarative sentences expressing facts, while modal verbs are expressing possibilities.

R.J. Furuli wrote:I agree with you that both tense and aspect express time or make time visible.


K.W. Randolph commented
In that case, then you agree that Biblical Hebrew conjugates for neither tense nor aspect. In that perfective and imperfective are types of aspect, then Biblical Hebrew doesn’t conjugate for perfective nor imperfective either.


Your conclusion is wrong. My view is that Hebrew does not have tense. But the conjugations represent the imperfective aspect (yiqtol, wayyiqtol, and weyiqtol) and the perfective aspect (qatal and weqatal).

R.J. Furuli wrote:Another important difference between tense and aspect is that tense is objective while aspect is subjective.
K.W. Randolph answered:
Not true when using standard terminology. Both are equally objective.
Tense refers to what you call the diectic center, or in common English where on the time line.
Aspect refers to the duration of the action, and whether or not the action is finished, periodic, ongoing, etc. That is an objective measure of time, an objective measure that is different from tense.


It does not matter what is the view of the majority or the minority—truth does not count heads. But as to standard terminology, I cannot recall any grammatical source dealing with Classical Hebrew which has stated that aspect is an objective property like tense.

Let’s look at Exodus 5:2 looking at the uses of the verbs:
ויאמר פרעה Part of narrative, therefore has past reference. That was a one time event that is completed, therefore perfective aspect. Modality indicative.


The difference between our understanding of aspect is that I connect aspect with the verb forms, while you connect it with functions. You say that an event that is completed is perfective. Below I will test this idea. In the seven examples, there are wayyiqtol, yiqtol, participle and infinitive. I use simple past in the translation of all of them; in a Bible translation I would have marked their nuances. All the actions expressed by these finite and infinite verbs have past reference, and they were completed at the moment they were written down. Do all of them express the perfective aspect?

1) Moses spoke (יְדַבֵּ֔ר), and God answered (יַעֲנֶ֥נּוּ) him with a voice. (Exodus 19:19) — two yiqtols
2) It was then that Joshua spoke (יְדַבֵּ֤ר) to YHWH…. And he said (וַיֹּ֣אמֶר) before the eyes of Israel. (Joshua 10:12) — one yiqtol and one wayyiqtol
3) The words that the seeers spoke (הַֽמְדַבְּרִ֣ים) to him. (2 Chronicles 33:18) —one participle with prefixed article
4) I rejoiced with those who said (בְּאֹמְרִ֣ים) to me. (Psalm 122:1— one participle with prefixed preposition
5) When Eliab, David’s oldest brother heard that he spoke (בְּדַבְּר֖וֹ) with the men, (1 Sam 17:28) —one infinitive construct with prefixed preposition
6) And he said (וַיֹּ֜אמֶר): “Do not be afraid, you precious man.”… As he spoke (וּֽבְדַבְּר֤וֹ) with me I was strengthened. Daniel 10:19 —one wayyiqtol and one infinitive construct with prefixed waw and preposition
7) This is what YHWH, Israel’s God said (אָמַ֤ר) (Exodus 5:1) —one qatal

Is there any semantic difference between the prefix forms and the suffix forms, the participles and infinitives? If there is no such difference—but meaning is only connected with function, Classical Hebrew is the only language in the world where a semantic difference between different verb forms is lacking.


Best regards,

Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway

Jemoh66
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Re: Is waw Consecutive (wayyiqtol) perfective or imperfective?

Postby Jemoh66 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:38 am

The words mood, modality, and modal are perfect examples of how speakers give meaning to forms based on context. Yes Indicative is a mood. One might ask what is the modality of a verb form, and find out it is indicative. But when a linguist says a verb is modal she means it is not indicative. This is also how the term modal is used in philosophy. Philosophers speak of "modal logic"; logic that speaks of counterfactuals and possible worlds, i.e. not indicative logic.

In Exodus 19:22, יפרץ is modal, i.e. subjunctive in this case.
וגם הכהנים הנגשים אל יהוה יתקדשו פן יפרץ בהם יהוה
Jonathan E Mohler
Studying for a MA in Intercultural Studies
Baptist Bible Theological Seminary

kwrandolph
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Re: Is waw Consecutive (wayyiqtol) perfective or imperfective?

Postby kwrandolph » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:22 am

R.J. Furuli wrote:K.W. Randolph wrote

Indicative is a modality. Both Qatal and Yiqtol are used for the indicative modality, but there’s a difference in how they express the indicative modality.


When we discuss language, each participant should define his use of terms, so we know what we are speaking about.


I have repeatedly written that I try to follow the SIL definitions found at http://www.glossary.sil.org/ and that is for two reasons: 1) they use the same definitions that I was taught when I studied linguistics and 2) this is an objective source of definitions that is accessible to anyone who wants to discuss linguistics, there’s nothing private nor idiosyncratic. These are the standard definitions as used in linguistics.

R.J. Furuli wrote:
R.J. Furuli wrote:I agree with you that both tense and aspect express time or make time visible.


K.W. Randolph commented
In that case, then you agree that Biblical Hebrew conjugates for neither tense nor aspect. In that perfective and imperfective are types of aspect, then Biblical Hebrew doesn’t conjugate for perfective nor imperfective either.


Your conclusion is wrong. My view is that Hebrew does not have tense. But the conjugations represent the imperfective aspect (yiqtol, wayyiqtol, and weyiqtol) and the perfective aspect (qatal and weqatal).

R.J. Furuli wrote:Another important difference between tense and aspect is that tense is objective while aspect is subjective.
K.W. Randolph answered:
Not true when using standard terminology. Both are equally objective.
Tense refers to what you call the diectic center, or in common English where on the time line.
Aspect refers to the duration of the action, and whether or not the action is finished, periodic, ongoing, etc. That is an objective measure of time, an objective measure that is different from tense.


It does not matter what is the view of the majority or the minority—truth does not count heads. But as to standard terminology, I cannot recall any grammatical source dealing with Classical Hebrew which has stated that aspect is an objective property like tense.


Again, let’s reference http://www.glossary.sil.org/term/aspect where we find the definition “Aspect is a grammatical category associated with verbs that expresses a temporal view of the event or state expressed by the verb.” (emphasis mine) that is an objective measure.

“I worked there for five years” is an objective statement indicating length of time apart from tense. It could be ongoing. That is an example of imperfective aspect.

“After working there for five years (adjectival phrase), I quit yesterday.” indicates perfective aspect, as completed action is expressed by the verb.

The above two are examples of standard uses of terminology.

As for Biblical Hebrew, there are no conjugations that indicate aspect, therefore Biblical Hebrew does not conjugate for aspect.

R.J. Furuli wrote:
Let’s look at Exodus 5:2 looking at the uses of the verbs:
ויאמר פרעה Part of narrative, therefore has past reference. That was a one time event that is completed, therefore perfective aspect. Modality indicative.


The difference between our understanding of aspect is that I connect aspect with the verb forms, while you connect it with functions.


Conjugation is where there is a specific form or combination of words to express a particular function. If a language doesn’t have either a specific form or combination of words to express a certain function, then it doesn’t conjugate for that function.

You used function as the standard to come to the conclusion that Biblical Hebrew doesn’t conjugate for tense.

Should you not be consistent and continue to use function when addressing the question of aspect?

Function is the way I think, so naturally I use function when addressing this question.

R.J. Furuli wrote:Is there any semantic difference between the prefix forms and the suffix forms, the participles and infinitives?


Yes there are semantic differences. However, translation is a different activity from understanding within a language and there are many times that it is awkward to impossible to translate those semantic differences into another language. That’s one reason I don’t accept translation as evidence for Biblical Hebrew.

R.J. Furuli wrote:Best regards,

Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway



Yours, Karl W. Randolph.

kwrandolph
Posts: 814
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: Is waw Consecutive (wayyiqtol) perfective or imperfective?

Postby kwrandolph » Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:09 pm

Jemoh66 wrote:The words mood, modality, and modal are perfect examples of how speakers give meaning to forms based on context. Yes Indicative is a mood. One might ask what is the modality of a verb form, and find out it is indicative. But when a linguist says a verb is modal she means it is not indicative. This is also how the term modal is used in philosophy. Philosophers speak of "modal logic"; logic that speaks of counterfactuals and possible worlds, i.e. not indicative logic.

In Exodus 19:22, יפרץ is modal, i.e. subjunctive in this case.
וגם הכהנים הנגשים אל יהוה יתקדשו פן יפרץ בהם יהוה


Jonathan: Here we’re discussing linguistics, not philosophy. ;)

Biblical Hebrew has only two conjugations, Qatal and Yiqtol. As a result, more than one modality can be expressed by each. But there seem to be consistent patterns as to which modalities they express.

Qatal expresses indicative, as well as the irrealis of conclusion “should you do A, then B (Qatal) will occur”

Yiqtol expresses indicative but in a different manner than Qatal, as well as the irrealis of subjunctive, intent, expectation, possibility, etc.

These patterns seem to be consistent.

Yours, Karl W. Randolph.

Jemoh66
Posts: 221
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:03 pm

Re: Is waw Consecutive (wayyiqtol) perfective or imperfective?

Postby Jemoh66 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:12 pm

kwrandolph wrote:
Jemoh66 wrote:The words mood, modality, and modal are perfect examples of how speakers give meaning to forms based on context. Yes Indicative is a mood. One might ask what is the modality of a verb form, and find out it is indicative. But when a linguist says a verb is modal she means it is not indicative. This is also how the term modal is used in philosophy. Philosophers speak of "modal logic"; logic that speaks of counterfactuals and possible worlds, i.e. not indicative logic.

In Exodus 19:22, יפרץ is modal, i.e. subjunctive in this case.
וגם הכהנים הנגשים אל יהוה יתקדשו פן יפרץ בהם יהוה


Jonathan: Here we’re discussing linguistics, not philosophy. ;)

Biblical Hebrew has only two conjugations, Qatal and Yiqtol. As a result, more than one modality can be expressed by each. But there seem to be consistent patterns as to which modalities they express.

Qatal expresses indicative, as well as the irrealis of conclusion “should you do A, then B (Qatal) will occur”

Yiqtol expresses indicative but in a different manner than Qatal, as well as the irrealis of subjunctive, intent, expectation, possibility, etc.

These patterns seem to be consistent.

Yours, Karl W. Randolph.


I mostly agree with you here. I still see Qatal as indicative even in your example. It's not unusual in many languages to use an indicative (future in most cases) in the second part of a conditional sentence. Interestingly English uses either modal in both A and B or Indicative in both:
(A)If you were nicer to me (B)I would spend more time with you.
(A')If you give me some money (B') I'll get us something to drink.
Is this a spectrum in irrealis?

Swahili on the other hand parallels it's Afro-Asiatic cousin.
In A the verb has the -KI- infix (conditional), while the B verb takes a the -TA- infix (indicative future tense marker). I.e. A is modal, B is Indicative.
Jonathan E Mohler
Studying for a MA in Intercultural Studies
Baptist Bible Theological Seminary

R.J. Furuli
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Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:51 am

Re: Is waw Consecutive (wayyiqtol) perfective or imperfective?

Postby R.J. Furuli » Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:05 am

K.W. Randolph wrote:

Again, let’s reference http://www.glossary.sil.org/term/aspect where we find the definition “Aspect is a grammatical category associated with verbs that expresses a temporal view of the event or state expressed by the verb.” (emphasis mine) that is an objective measure.

“I worked there for five years” is an objective statement indicating length of time apart from tense. It could be ongoing. That is an example of imperfective aspect.

“After working there for five years (adjectival phrase), I quit yesterday.” indicates perfective aspect, as completed action is expressed by the verb.

The above two are examples of standard uses of terminology.

As for Biblical Hebrew, there are no conjugations that indicate aspect, therefore Biblical Hebrew does not conjugate for aspect.


The SIL definition of aspect is:
“Aspect is a grammatical category associated with verbs that expresses a temporal view of the event or state expressed by the verb.”

This definition is rather general, and I agree with this definition. The key words are “temporal view,” and they must be defined. Particularly important is the word “view” and its definition. In the more detailed SIL definitions, I find two basic errors. 1) The view seems to be that aspects are universal and not language-specific (=aspects are not different in different languages). 2) By listing different kinds of aspect, aktionsart and aspect are confused.

Below are two other definitions that may be considered:
B.M. Fanning, Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek (1990, p. 31) shows the difference between aktionsart and aspect:
“Aktionsart involves how the action actually occurs; reflects the external objective facts of the occurrence; focuses on something outside the speaker.
“Aspect involves a way of viewing the action; reflects the subjective conception or portrayal by the speaker; focuses on the speaker’s representation of the action.”

Carlota Smith, The Parameter of Aspect (1991, p. 91) defines aspect in the following way:
“Aspectual viewpoints functions like the lens of a camera, making objects visible to the receiver. Situations are the objects on which viewpoint lenses are trained. And just as a camera lens is necessary to make an object visible for a picture, so viewpoints are necessary to make visible the situation talked about in a sentence.”

Both these authors indicate that aspect is a subjective viewpoint; compare the word “view” in the SIL definition. I think that if you ask SIL, you will get the answer that aspect is a subjective property.

Aktionsart is an objective property, and examples are durativity, dynamicity (= change), telicity (=the end is conceptually included in the verb) and punctiliarity. An example of the confusion between aktionsart and aspect is the SIL definition of “Iterative aspect": “Iterative aspect is an aspect that expresses the repetition of an event or state.” There is no such thing as an “iterative aspect.” Iterativity is the function of the imperfective aspect + punctiliar aktionsart. Examples 1) and 2) may express a punctiliar action (one knock) or an iterative action (several knocks). What was the real situation is not made visible. However, example 3) is iterative, and the reason that we know this is the combination of the imperfective aspect and punctiliar actionsart. The actionsart of the verb in example 4 is durative and dynamic, and the use of the imperfective aspect portrays a progressive action, not an iterative action. The actionsart of the verb in example 5) is telic, and the use of the imperfective aspect portrays a progressive action, not an interative action.

1) Ann knocked at the door.
2) Ann has knocked at the door.
3) Ann was knocking at the door.
4) Ann was walking in the garden.
5) Ann was breaking through the wall

R.J. Furuli wrote:
The difference between our understanding of aspect is that I connect aspect with the verb forms, while you connect it with functions.

K.W. Randolph answered:
Conjugation is where there is a specific form or combination of words to express a particular function. If a language doesn’t have either a specific form or combination of words to express a certain function, then it doesn’t conjugate for that function.

You used function as the standard to come to the conclusion that Biblical Hebrew doesn’t conjugate for tense.

Should you not be consistent and continue to use function when addressing the question of aspect?

Function is the way I think, so naturally I use function when addressing this question.


You have not answered my question whether the wayyiqtols, yiqtols, participles, and infinitives all are perfective, because they express completed actions in the past. It would be fine if you answered this question, so I can understand your thinking.

I did not use function to reach the conclusion that Hebrew verbs do not express tenses. I used form + function to reach that conclusion. If I understand you correctly, you use only function to reach the conclusion the Hebrew neither has tense nor aspect.

The semantic differences between verbs in the Semitic languages are related to prefix forms versus suffix forms. When I started my studies of Hebrew verbs, I observed that, as the only language in the Semitic family, there seemed to be three members of the prefix forms and two members of the suffix forms in Hebrew. A study of all the finite and infinite verbs in the Tanach, as well as the matres lexiones of the DSS, Origen’s transcriptions from Hebrew to Greek, and the basis for the vocalization, their cantillation marks and their phonological rules of the Masoretes led me to the conclusion that there is no real difference between yiqtol, wayyiqtol, and weyiqtol on the on hand and qatal and weqatal on the other hand.

The next step was to find if there was a uniform function of the prefix forms that could be connected with one of the two aspects, and if there was a uniform function of the suffix forms that could be connected with the other aspect. My conclusion was that there exists such uniform functions: the prefix forms reprent the imperfective aspect and the suffix forms represent the perfective aspect.

There are two knots that must be loosened when an understanding of Hebrew verbs is sought.
1) Why are yiqtol, wayyiqtol, and weyiqtol constructed differently, and why are qatal and weqatal constructed differently?
2) Why are there different temporal references between wayyiqtol, yiqtol, weyiqtol, qatal, and weqatal?

By using the tools I mentioned above, you can untangle the differences in stress, apocopation, and germination among the prefix forms, as well as the small differences between the suffix forms. By a scrupulous distinction between semantic factors (=the intrinsic meaning that never change) and pragmatic factors (=the meaning caused by the context that may change), a logical and simple explanation of the differences of the temporal references will emerge.



Best regards,


Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway


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