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Hebrew characters[edit]

Hi Doric Loon, the easiest way to add pointed Hebrew characters I know of is to go to [1] and click the characters there, then copy-n-paste them over here. But I'd definitely use a Tiberian Hebrew-appropriate transliteration system, such as "ṣ" rather than "c" for צ. As for where to link to this article from, it looks like you may have to start a section about grammar at Biblical Hebrew and link to it from there. Also check [2] and [3] for Wikipedia pages containing the phrases "waw consecutive" and "vav consecutive". And of course it could be added to Template:Hebrew language. —Angr 14:53, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Thanks. I'm out of time for today, but I'll attend to that. --Doric Loon (talk) 15:09, 7 March 2009 (UTC)


comments on this:

1. the comment about the vocalization of /wa-/, /wə-/, /u-/ etc. isn't quite right. more properly, there are two different prefixes here (/wə-/ and /wa-/), each with allomorphic variations. /wə-/ means "and", while /wa-/ perhaps means "and the" and is a contraction of /wə-ha-/. in the waw-consecutive construction, /wə-/ occurs with a following perfect verb (in form), while /wa-/ occurs with a following imperfect form. /wə-/ has the variant /u-/ before labial sounds and schwas, plus some additional complications. /wa-/ has exactly the same behavior as the article /ha-/: specifically, it triggers gemination of the following consonant, but if the consonant can't be geminated there are various other complications.

2. it isn't completely correct to say that the waw-consecutive perfect construction simply uses the imperfect verb, and vice-versa. the forms of the verbs used in waw-consecutive differ somewhat from the forms found elsewhere. most noticeably, with imperfect forms, the stress is often retracted, and when this happens, the final vowel gets modified and/or shortened. e.g. a hif'il form like /yakhˈnīs/ "he will insert" becomes /wayˈyakhnēs/.

3. i think that the origin of the waw-consecutive forms is still somewhat controversial -- this should be indicated. for example, Robert Hetzron in "The World's Major Languages" denies the idea that Hebrew is a "mixed language" (in general I think this idea is obsolete) and instead sees the waw-consecutive as partly the survival of an older state of affairs and partly a new development. In particular, according to Hetzron, Proto-Semitic had a prefix-conjugated past tense (according to him, *not* a "perfect aspect") and a suffix-conjugated stative. West Semitic turned the suffix-conjugated stative into a past and mostly dropped the old prefix-conjugated past, but it survived in Hebrew in certain constructions. In order to distinguish this form more clearly from the prefix-conjugated non-past, it was prefixed with */hawaya/ "it was", which evolved into /wa-/. This was then confused with /wə-/ "and", and a non-past "/wə-/ + suffix-conjugation" created by analogy. The stress difference between regular imperfect/non-past and past-tense "/wa-/ + prefix conjugation" stems from the Proto-Semitic stress-based difference between the retracted-stress prefix-conjugated past and final-stress prefix-conjugated non-past. According to Hetzron, the latter form was actually a jussive in Proto-Semitic, and Proto-Semitic had a separate prefix-conjugated non-past, which was distinguished by the root vocalization. East Semitic, e.g. Akkadian, preserves the whole Proto-Semitic system as it originally was, whereas South Semitic (e.g. Ethiopic) has changes in the past tense and Central Semitic (Hebrew, Arabic) has more radical changes in both past and non-past.

Benwing (talk) 06:44, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

I'd say that as long as it reflects published acknowledged work and is sourced, you should go ahead and integrate it into the article. Some of what you say sounds strange though: "/wa-/ perhaps means "and the" and is a contraction of /wə-ha-/" – a conjugated verb with an article? "and the he said", "and the there was light"? Dan 21:10, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
I second Benwing's comment. The view expressed by Driver and cited in the article is definitely not accepted today, and the one expressed by Hetzron is mostly the standard one and probably has been so for decades, because I remember reading more or less the same in a book from the 1960s or 70s. (I'm not sure what Dan is responding to above, perhaps an earlier version of the comment.)-- (talk) 02:43, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Sáenz-Badillos briefly describes these theories that Hebrew originated by mixing together two or more languages, and finishes with, “However, the various rebuttals of the Mischsprache theory have ensured that it is no longer regarded as very plausible nowadays.” (Angel Sáenz-Badillos, 1993, A History of the Hebrew Language, p.55) “In addition, the preterite function of the Proto-Semitic prefix conjugation has been preserved in [Biblical Hebrew’s] ‘consecutive’ (or ‘conversive’) tenses, the origins and significance of which are still not absolutely clear.” (p.73)
Certainly this view should be reflected in the article, even if you do not believe it is the majority view today. The fact that scholars disagree means that 2 or 3 or 4 views should be mentioned, but prefaced by saying origin not clear or origin unknown. It is unsatisfying to admit we don’t know, but that is how things stand today.
(To the linguists: Please don’t jump on the use of “tense” above – it’s a direct quotation.) — Solo Owl (talk) 19:40, 1 January 2011 (UTC)
Hmmm, this still hasn't been fixed up. All the info from what I wrote above comes from "The World's Major Languages", if I remember aright. Linguists nowadays are very reluctant to admit that such a thing as a truly "mixed language" (rather than simply mixed vocabulary) exists at all, and they need substantial evidence in order to accept such a theory -- and this hardly exists in Hebrew, which is in fact extremely self-consistent.
In regard to Solo Owl -- the use of "tense" here is not especially problematic. Whether and to what extent different Semitic languages are "tense-based" or "aspect-based" or some mixture is still rather controversial. Part of the problem is the "look here ma! this is a really weird language I'm working on!" tendency that many linguists have to exaggerate the unusual aspects of their pet languages. The "aspect not tense" theory is a natural outgrowth, and along with it came a lot of very questionable illustrations, e.g. the article's description of a "prophetic past" that was somehow a "future" in the minds of the writers of the Hebrew bible, supposedly possessing a putatively "prophetic" way of looking at time -- i.e. something totally different from the normal Western way of doing things and hence fitting well into a common mindset that sees unusual non-Western cultures as alien in every possible way. You see this repeatedly in descriptions of Koranic Arabic grammar as well. This is not to say that the aspectual theory is wrong, although probably the actual truth is both somewhere in between and shifting over time.
As for Dan Pelleg's comment, he misunderstands me. /wa-/ does indeed mean "and the" when used as a normal conjunction. According to Hetzron, /wa-/ as a marker of the prefix-conjugated past has a different origin. Benwing (talk) 06:55, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm quoting from memory (rather old memories from highschool, for that matter), but as far as I know, at least in Israeli Hebrew, also /wa-/ as a normal conjunction means only "and" (without "the"), the /a/ vowel preserving an archaic pronunciation and appearing only in certain idioms or set phrases, in which the stress in the word with /wa/ comes directly after it, e.g. "עובר ושב" /o'ver va'ʃav/; "כפתור ופרח" /kaf'tor va'ferax/; "בית וגן" /'bait va'gan/, "עיר ואם" /ir va'em/. Can't source it spontaneously, maybe it's just one type of /wa/ – could you quote some examples of the usage you proclaimed? Dan 23:09, 26 August 2012 (UTC)

Waw of reversal[edit]

In support of the waw of reversal idea, the first line of וַיִּקְרָא (Leviticus) is: וַיִּקְרָא אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֵלָיו מֵאֹהֶל מֹועֵד לֵאמֹֽר

Here the first two verb, וַיִּקְרָא, is future in form, reversed by Waw to past.

The first line of בְּמִדְבַּר (Numbers) is: וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה בְּמִדְבַּר סִינַי בְּאֹהֶל מֹועֵד בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי בַּשָּׁנָה הַשֵּׁנִית לְצֵאתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לֵאמֹֽר

Here again the first verb, וַיְדַבֵּר, is future in form, reversed by Waw to the past. The article suggests that the first verb in a series is in its normal tense and aspect, but in these two examples, the very first verbs are reversed by the letter waw. If the article is correct it needs to explain examples like these. —Anomalocaris (talk) 16:33, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

I think that's just a narrative technique of starting a sentence with "and" to create more narrative flow. Look at the word "kai" in the New Testament narratives too. --Doric Loon (talk) 20:13, 25 September 2011 (UTC)