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Re: yaqtul(u) in Ugaritic poetry (was: Pentateuch question)

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  • Yigal Bloch
    On Thu Sep 28, 2006 1:30 pm (PDT), Andrés Piquer Otero wrote: [snip] ... [snip] Since when is comparative Semitic linguistics a prejudice ? Normally it is
    Message 1 of 7 , Sep 29, 2006
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      On Thu Sep 28, 2006 1:30 pm (PDT), Andrés Piquer Otero wrote:

      [snip]
      > On the other hand, I do not see how the "praesens historicum" is
      > relevant or tenable from within-text discourse elements (another story
      > is basing the "present" default value of yaqtulu in comparative Semitic
      > linguistic theory). "Praesens historicum" usually indicates a contrasted
      > usage, a departure from the standard construction in the development of
      > a narrative of past events, be the usage due to stylistic, discourse or
      > rhetorical reasons. If yaqtulu is the default form for narrative
      > sequences, then its "present" value can only be proposed by criteria
      > foreign to the texts.
      > On a different level, it would require to explain away quite a few
      > distinct usages of yaqtul forms which are associated to clear narrative
      > formulae and which, were they to be interpreted as yaqtulu, would
      > require a complete rearrangement of the morphology of the Ugaritic
      > language (e.g., absence of nunation in 3rd and 2nd pl. forms).
      > I am skeptical on the possibility of reaching certain conclusions, given
      > the dearth of "hard" morphological evidence on yaqtul-yaqtulu
      > oppositions for most verbs (rule out all singulars of strong roots for
      > starts) and postulating an analysis due to functional grounds could lead
      > us into circular arguments and comparative linguistics prejudices.
      [snip]

      Since when is comparative Semitic linguistics a "prejudice"? Normally it is
      thought to be a valid tool for understanding dead and poorly attested
      languages. The very idea of contrast between taqtulu:na (2-3 m. pl. of
      yaqtulu) and taqtulu: (2-3 m. pl. of yaqtul) in Ugaritic is based on
      comparative Semitic linguistics, as much as the idea of essentially
      present-future time-reference (or imperfective aspect-reference) of yaqtulu.
      And of course, there are a number of caveats with the nunation. For one
      thing, the ending -n can as well be an energic suffix as a 2-3 m. pl.
      morpheme. For another thing, there is nunation in 2-3 m. pl. forms in
      Biblical Hebrew also (nun paragogicum); as shown by Rainey and Tamar Zewi,
      the origin of this nunation is likely in the Proto-West-Semitic
      taqtulu:na/yaqtulu:na. And yet, the nunation in BH is the exception rather
      than the rule, the paradigm of yaqtul having spread into the domain of
      yaqtulu. May we have a similar situation in Ugaritic poetry? Of course,
      Ugaritic is older than BH, but its verbal system, at least in prose, had
      undergone a process similar to that which took place in Hebrew in
      post-Biblical times -- qatala became (almost) the sole form for expressing
      past situations. Could there have been a paradigm collapse between yaqtul
      and yaqtulu in Ugaritic poetry?

      Yigal Bloch,
      Jerusalem
    • Andrés Piquer Otero
      ... Obviously comparative Semitics is not a prejudice and it is a very valid tool. There can be (and has been) a certain amount of prejudice, though, in using
      Message 2 of 7 , Sep 29, 2006
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        Yigal Bloch wrote:

        >
        >
        >Since when is comparative Semitic linguistics a "prejudice"? Normally it is
        >thought to be a valid tool for understanding dead and poorly attested
        >languages.
        >
        Obviously comparative Semitics is not a prejudice and it is a very valid
        tool. There can be (and has been) a certain amount of prejudice, though,
        in using comparative studies to produce a certain paradigm and model
        (still, that is useful tool, if it is not taken as a normative rule) and
        then "forcing the paradigm" upon the texts. Those grammars and handbooks
        with a paradigmatic explanation of a form's value, followed by a long
        list of "exceptions", at times explained via convoluted procedures, or,
        as usual, banished to the realm of "poetic/stylistic" features, are
        taking an aprioristic attitude, which I called prejudice, perhaps not
        the best term.

        > The very idea of contrast between taqtulu:na (2-3 m. pl. of
        >yaqtulu) and taqtulu: (2-3 m. pl. of yaqtul) in Ugaritic is based on
        >comparative Semitic linguistics, as much as the idea of essentially
        >present-future time-reference (or imperfective aspect-reference) of yaqtulu.
        >
        >
        The idea of contrast is, for sure. The functionality of the contrast,
        though, is to be found in the texts. And then you have come to the
        problem. Is there a present-future time reference form yaqtulu when a
        substantial part of the Baal Cycle narrative units are constructed with
        yaqtulu forms? You can agree or disagree, but fact is that it is
        hypothetical. There would be also room for it having a preterite
        time-reference (if we do not accept the praesens historicum argument) or
        for the preterite vs. present-future time-reference opposition not being
        relevant to the verbal system as attested in the Baal Cycle.

        >And of course, there are a number of caveats with the nunation. For one
        >thing, the ending -n can as well be an energic suffix as a 2-3 m. pl.
        >morpheme. For another thing, there is nunation in 2-3 m. pl. forms in
        >Biblical Hebrew also (nun paragogicum); as shown by Rainey and Tamar Zewi,
        >the origin of this nunation is likely in the Proto-West-Semitic
        >taqtulu:na/yaqtulu:na.
        >
        Agreed, in the pl. number it is quite impossible to discriminate between
        yaqtulu forms and "energics" in Ugaritic. If functionality wants to be
        examined from textual evidence, one has to stick to the singular.

        >And yet, the nunation in BH is the exception rather
        >than the rule, the paradigm of yaqtul having spread into the domain of
        >yaqtulu.
        >
        I would not take a stance on the origins of BH yiqtol, whether it comes
        from *yaqtulu or from *yaqtul. Both have been argumented, but the scene
        seems still complicated and not solved. But what do you exaclty mean by
        "the paradigm of yaqtul"? Given that BH has no quantitatively meaningful
        materials for proposing yaqtul-yaqtulu oppositions, your picture seems
        to be drawing on extra-Hebrew models. It may be true or not, but is
        conjectural and takes a "design" paradigm as an apriori.

        >May we have a similar situation in Ugaritic poetry? Of course,
        >Ugaritic is older than BH, but its verbal system, at least in prose, had
        >undergone a process similar to that which took place in Hebrew in
        >post-Biblical times -- qatala became (almost) the sole form for expressing
        >past situations. Could there have been a paradigm collapse between yaqtul
        >and yaqtulu in Ugaritic poetry?
        >
        >
        Sivan's remarks in his grammar point towards that direction, a paradigm
        collapse which produces a neutralization between yaqtul and yaqtulu.
        That is a possibility, but, again, it should be qualified by a detailed
        typological exam. Collapse normally is reflected by indiscriminated
        confusion, if the contexts where the "change" (according, again, to a
        putative paradigm) takes place are not random, but show some pattern,
        then the collapse theory should be nuanced.
        This, of course, does not even scratch the problems posed by possible
        diachrony within the poems, in the transmission/redaction/copying
        process. Did the "collapse" take place when the texts were "composed",
        "reviewed" or "copied"? That could have happened in Ugaritic and has
        certainly happened in BH. Many paragraphs in BH grammars (perhaps also
        some in Ug. studies) are trying to explain issues which could be better
        solved by textual criticism. That does not mean that one should resort
        to "scribal failure", but, on the contrary, to take the
        scribe/redactor/etc of the text within his linguistic context and -in
        the rare occasions where some evidence can be glimpsed- to detect the
        possible distance between one phase of the crafting and transmitting of
        the text and another.

        Andres Piquer Otero
      • Donald R. Vance, Ph.D.
        Does anyone know to what address (preferably email) that one should send corrections to HALOT? I ve been collecting typographical and other such errors in
        Message 3 of 7 , Sep 29, 2006
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          Does anyone know to what address (preferably email) that one should
          send corrections to HALOT? I've been collecting typographical and
          other such errors in HALOT and I don't know to whom to send them.

          Donald R. Vance, Ph.D.
          Professor of Biblical Languages and Literature
          Oral Roberts University
          dvance@...
          donaldrvance@...
        • Lisbeth S. Fried
          Well, you could send them to me for starters. Liz Fried lizfried@umich.edu _____ From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Donald
          Message 4 of 7 , Sep 30, 2006
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            Well, you could send them to me for starters.

            Liz Fried

            lizfried@...





            _____

            From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
            Donald R. Vance, Ph.D.
            Sent: Saturday, September 30, 2006 12:01 AM
            To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [ANE-2] Corrections to HALOT



            Does anyone know to what address (preferably email) that one should
            send corrections to HALOT? I've been collecting typographical and
            other such errors in HALOT and I don't know to whom to send them.

            Donald R. Vance, Ph.D.
            Professor of Biblical Languages and Literature
            Oral Roberts University
            dvance@... <mailto:dvance%40oru.edu>
            donaldrvance@ <mailto:donaldrvance%40mac.com> mac.com





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          • Yigal Bloch
            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
            Message 5 of 7 , Oct 1, 2006
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              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,
              Jerusalem



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            • Ariel L. Szczupak
              What s the current opinion on the Rins translation of the Ugaritic epics? [Rin & Rin, Acts of the Gods , Heb., 1996]. I find its index very useful and the
              Message 6 of 7 , Oct 1, 2006
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                What's the current opinion on the Rins' translation of the Ugaritic
                epics? [Rin & Rin, "Acts of the Gods", Heb., 1996]. I find its index
                very useful and the translation has a poetic quality, but I noticed
                that it has a low citation index so I'm wondering how accurate is it
                considered to be?



                Ariel.

                [100% bona fide dilettante ... delecto ergo sum!]

                ---
                Ariel L. Szczupak
                AMIS-JLM (Ricercar Ltd.)
                POB 4707, Jerusalem, Israel 91401
                Phone: +972-2-5619660 Fax: +972-2-5634203
                ane.als@...
              • kahal_0710
                ... You can send them to me. See http://www.staff.uni-mainz.de/lehmann/KAHAL.pdf for more information. Any such list would be welcome. Kind regards, Samuel
                Message 7 of 7 , Oct 7, 2006
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                  > Does anyone know to what address (preferably email) that one should
                  > send corrections to HALOT? I've been collecting typographical and
                  > other such errors in HALOT and I don't know to whom to send them.

                  You can send them to me. See

                  http://www.staff.uni-mainz.de/lehmann/KAHAL.pdf

                  for more information. Any such list would be welcome.

                  Kind regards,

                  Samuel Arnet
                  University of Berne, Switzerland
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