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Incomplete parsing on wawConsecutive verbs


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#1 Allen

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 12:44 AM

Ok, so I am doing work for my hebrew class and I notice there is no aspect listed (perfect or imperfect) when Accordance parses out a verb that is in the wawConsecutive. Maybe there is something I don't know, but Bible works will list an aspect for these verbs. Can anyone help me understand what is going on.

#2 Helen Brown

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 03:47 AM

We will have to look into whether this information is contained in the BHS-W4 database but not shown in Accordance. Currently we treat the waw consecutive as the aspect, i.e. it is one of the choices in the Aspect menu. Here is the definition from the Help:

The waw consecutive is a prefixed form of the verb preceded by the conjunction waw which typically introduces a subordinate clause. In other words, it represents an action as successive and subordinate to some preceding action or situation (hence the term "consecutive"). Waw consecutives are typically perfect in aspect.


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#3 DavidKrishef

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 08:19 AM

Waw consecutives are typically perfect in aspect.


Helen -- While it is true that most of the time, vav consecutive verbs are perfect, that is not always true. It is really meaningless to say that vav consecutives are typically perfect, since they can be either perfect or imperfect.
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#4 jpkang

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 11:29 PM


Waw consecutives are typically perfect in aspect.

Helen -- While it is true that most of the time, vav consecutive verbs are perfect, that is not always true. It is really meaningless to say that vav consecutives are typically perfect, since they can be either perfect or imperfect.


David, do you mean the difference between wayyiqtol (typically translated in the past tense) and weqatal (typically translated in the future) forms? BHS-W4 only tags the wayyiqtol as waw-consecutive (one has to search for the conjunction followed by a perfect to find the weqatal).

My short answer to Allen is that Accordance is not giving incomplete parsing. Can you please give one or two examples of what BibleWorks says additionally about specific waw-consecutive forms? Are they giving the probable tense in English (past/present/future)? Or are they actually distinguishing wayyiqtol from weqatal, which would be the one way it might make sense for a waw-consecutive to be further "parsed" (but such a distinction is not likely to make it into the BHS-W4 database, in my opinion). Strictly speaking, the wayyiqtol is neither perfect (with which it has the most semantic overlap) nor imperfect, so if BibleWorks is calling it one or the other, it is incorrect.

Forms that BHS-W4 tags as waw-consecutive are usually translated in the past tense in English because many scholars understand the waw-consecutive as the remnant in Biblical Hebrew of a true past ("preterite") tense form which once was distinguished from the aspectual perfect and imperfect; i.e., the wayyiqtol is actually not perfect, though it can be translated like one). As the theory goes, in time the preterite and imperfect became easy to confuse in Hebrew, so the waw was introduced to mark the otherwise identical preterite (but especially compare the differences in spelling of the waw-consecutive and imperfect forms of III-he verbs like עשׂה "to make," which strongly suggest that there is a genetic difference). In some texts, the preterite shows up without the waw, looking exactly like an imperfect, but clearly to be translated in the past tense from context (see ירגזון in Exodus 15:14, which must be translated "they trembled" or the like--even though it looks like an imperfect, it's not--it's a preterite!). Thus in this view, the waw is not converting anything (being optional, even), as some older theories which called it the waw-conversive went.

You can copy and paste these searches into BHS-W4 and compare the typical renderings for עשׂה:

och@ [verb qal imperfect third masc sing]

och@ [verb qal wawconsec third masc sing]

och@ [verb qal perfect third masc sing]

And observe the very frequent use (in almost 2,000 verses) of the wayyiqtol in narrative sequences, where it continues an initial perfect:

[verb perfect] <FOLLOWED BY> [verb wawconsec]

The reverse sequence is also well attested, where a weqatal form continues an initial imperfect (usually present/future):

[verb imperfect] <FOLLOWED BY> w [verb perfect]

And finally, there are many (6555) cases where a wayyiqtol begins a verse/clause, independent of any prior temporal indicator, but where it almost always indicates the past tense. For this, you need to set up a Hebrew construct where the conjunction w is in PLACE 1 and the VERB wawConsecutive immediately follows, and link that search to a BHS-W4 window:

Attached File  verse_initial_waw_consecutive.jpg   28.92KB   95 downloads

This, of course, only scratches the surface of all of the syntactical possibilities which Accordance is capable of finding!

Anyways, I hope this was helpful/interesting for someone else out there! Perhaps someone can give even more specific/clear examples of the differences between these forms and their renderings in a given passage.

Edited by jpkang, 19 May 2006 - 12:08 AM.

J. P. Kang, Ph.D. (Bible)




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