Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ    Attic   

Re: Hebrew waw consecutive

From:J R <tanuef@...>
Date:Tuesday, September 2, 2008, 10:23
On Tue, Aug 26, 2008 at 2:49 AM, Veoler <veoler@...> wrote:

> J R wrote: > > Veolar, I'm not sure what the alternative is to "believing in" > > waw-conversive. If you want to say it always means 'and', and the suffix > > conjugation is always past/perfect, and the prefix conjugation always > > non-past/imperfect, then tense/aspect would be switching all over the > place > > and nothing would make much sense (and the Bible is hard enough to > > understand already...). > > Yes. But if they are purely aspectual and not tenses, is it still > confusing? > I thought it was a common view that Biblical Hebrew distinguished > perfective > and imperfective (or something similar) and that they changed in later > Hebrew > to past and non-past or future, even if they often are translated as past > vs. > non-past as default for convenience. >
Well, there are different views, but I think it's a problem either way. Take a look at virtually any sentence. There are a lot that start off 'vayomer' '(he) said.' That's the prefix conjugation with a waw. If you hold by the reversal, it's past or perfective. If you don't, it's non-past or imperfective, and that would be a strange way to run a narrative along. How might you translate it? 'And he was saying this, and she was saying that....' ? And it's all the worse since it's not consistent: you'll get perfective verbs (without a waw) thrown in too at various points, with no relation AFAIA to what's going on semantically. OTOH, you do see a certain general syntactic distribution: waw forms clause-initially, and plain forms non-initially.
> > I'm not an expert on this, but I thought it was accepted by everyone. > > Have you heard of arguments against it? > > No, not really*. But I haven't really heard arguments for it either. I have > seen _A New Approach to the Problem of the Hebrew Tenses and Its Solution > Without Recourse to Waw-consecutive_ by Oswald Leonard Barnes quoted, but I > haven't read the book myself and can't find it online. When I'm searching > on > the topic online most hits seems to only speculate about the diachronical > origin to it, and many hits are on JSTOR which I can't access.
I found a couple of quotes from there, translated into Spanish, at . They're not too illuminating though. There's also a short one from Benjamin Wills Newton, who says something about the future having a "progressive" or "expansive" character, and marvels that "something so ridiculous" as waw conversive was ever proposed. That doesn't sound so encouraging to me, but I'd have to see more.
> But I'm wondering: Is there any book dealing with the reason to why the > theory were postulated and why [in the author and reviewers eyes] > rightfully > so, to put on my books-to-buy list?
Not that I know of, but maybe. It's also the standard view in Jewish tradition, BTW. It's called in Hebrew 'vav hahipuch', meaning 'vav of conversion/reversal'. I haven't been able to find any info on the origin of the idea in Hebrew either, but it's not new. In what I've seen, it's spoken of as if it were always understood and accepted.
> * Except that the theory was intended to solve the problems with switching > tenses, which is more easily solved with an aspectual view, which in turn > makes the waw-consecutive theory an unnecessary complication. > > -- > Veoler
Josh Roth