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2657Re: [ANE-2] Re: yaqtul(u) in Ugaritic poetry

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  • Yigal Bloch
    Oct 1, 2006
      Dear Andreas,

      I agree that while comparative Semitics is useful to provide a model for understanding a given language, that model should be checked against the texts in that language. Moreover, I don't think that we can solve the problem of the verbal system of Ugaritic poetry in this discussion. If I understand correctly your point about "the preterite vs. present-future time-reference opposition not being relevant to the verbal system as attested in the Baal Cycle," it may be that Ugaritic epics are indeed not concerned with locating events at a given point in time relative to the time of narration (some speculation about "the mythic time" may be in place here, but I would rather refrain from going into this).
      As for the situation in BH, I think that what is customarily called yiqtol has roots in *both* Proto-West-Semitic yaqtul and yaqtulu. The shorter and longer forms of the Hebrew prefix conjugation are easily seen in the hiph'il of almost all verbs (save 2-gem.) and in 2-y/w and 3-y verbs. And generally, the shorter forms are used in the ways corresponding to what should have been the uses of yaqtul in Proto-West-Semitic (with the use for single complete actions in the past -- i.e., narrative past -- being latgely restricted in BH to the position after w-, i.e., wayyiqtol), while the longer forms are used in the ways corresponding to what should have been the uses of yaqtulu in Proto-West-Semitic. Although there are exceptions to this rule, they are readily explained on either linguistic grounds (such as the thesis of the complete paradigm collapse between different forms of prefix conjugation in the 1st person, proposed by Rainey and D. Talshir) or on text-critical grounds (e.g., the article by H.-J. Stipp in JNSL from 1987).
      The nun paragogicum fits into this pattern, the usage of "paragogic" forms being restricted almost completely to the realm that is normally posited for the Proto-West-Semitic yaqtulu, i.e., present-future, past durative or past iterative (I think that the general term "imperfective" is a better description). Hence, it is only reasonable to connect this ending with the Proto-West-Semitic forms taqtulu:na/yaqtulu:na.
      However, in most cases where prefix-conjugation verbal forms are used in BH with imperfective meaning in 2-3 m. pl., the nun paragogicum is absent, and the ending is -u: (as in the 2-3 m. pl. forms of Proto-West-Semitic yaqtul). Hence my statement about "the paradigm of yaqtul having spread into the domain of yaqtulu," although I don't think it was a complete paradigm collapse, since the sense of distinction between the original yaqtul and yaqtulu was preserved, at least to a considerable degree, in BH. What I suggested is that *if* Greenstein is right in his observations about the verbal system of Ugaritic epics (which I am not sure about), then one may have to resort to a suggestion of a similar influence of the paradigm of yaqtul on the paradigm of yaqtulu in order to explain those narrative verbal forms, which lack the final nunation in 2-3 m. pl. But of course, a careful examination of all the available data is needed before pursuing this suggestion any further.

      Yigal Bloch,

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