Austronesian Hebrew/Verbs

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The confluence of the Semitic binyanim/aspect system and the Proto-Austonesian alignment/triggers is among the most labyrinthine combinations in the history of morphosyntactic amalgamations. In the realm of phonaesthetics, PAH progressivelty capitulated to its surroundings. Here, however, it subsumed and appropriated new processes while maintaining all of its original syntax.



[[File:Binyanim.png|thumb|right|Hebrew system of voices}} PH was a Nominative-Accusative language, favoring VSO 40% of the time. SVO occurred in 34% of cases, VOS 17%, OSV 5.3%, SOV 2.3%, and OSV 0.98%. Definite direct objects were marked with the preposition /eθ/. The enclitic, post-position location marker /ah/ was slowly giving way to the preposition /la/ and the relative clause marker /ʔaʃer/ was being replaced by the relative pronoun /ʃa+/. There was no tense per se[1], but a complex system of seven voices[2], two aspects[3], four moods[4] and a binary system of reduplication[5]. Most of these could be conjugated for person, number, and gender.

Most Hebrew grammars deem stems to have expressed either the active or the passive voice. They are said to be either ‘simple’, ‘intensive’, or ‘causative’. The hitha’el is was the ‘causative reflexive’. However, the medio-passive role of the niphal and the shadowy remnants of a Qal-passive voice make some Semitologists conjecture a nine-part system of nine binyanim in the earliest stages of Hebrew development, not seven

Reconstructed PH
Simple Intensive Causative
Active pa'al pi'el hif'al
Middle nif'al hitpa'el šitpa'il[6]
Passive pu'il[7] pu''al hof'al


PAn had the following proclitic case-markers: na for ergative, ta for accusative, and a for direct.

Reconstructed PAn Voice System
Non-past Past Future Dep. Subjunct.
Actor «um» «inum» r(a)- -un Ø -a
Direct -en «in» r(a)- -en -a -ao
Local -an «in»-an r(a)- -an -i -ai
Instrum. i- i- «in»-iu r(a)- -un -u -au

There were four voices: Actor, Direct-Passive, Local-Passive and Instrumental-Passive (also known as the Benefactive). This system moves from Nominative-Accusative (N-A) alignment, to Ergative-Absolutive (E-A) alignment and beyond via a system of ‘triggers’ on the verb. VSO word-order made this easier to comprehend in real-time.

N-A alignment (e.g., English) puts the subject of an intransitive verb (S) and the agent of a transitive verb (A) in the same case, called ‘nominative’. The object of a transitive verb (O) is in a second case, called ‘accusative’. E-A treats A as its own case (‘ergative’) but S and O as the same case (‘absolutive’). Austronesian morphosyntactic alignment introduces two more terms to the matrix: a location of the action (L) and an instrument or beneficiary of the action (I). The system of triggers indicate which element will be in the ‘direct’ case (D). Other elements revert to their original cases. In the Local and Instrumental, S cannot be stated.


Within a short time of their involuntary journey to Southeast Asia, the ancient Semitic peoples had come to see their various “stems” differently, because of their environment.

Repeated patterns are marked, but are most often distinguished by ablaut.

# g Sing. Dual Plural
1 c. ŊaLaMti ŊaLaMnay ŊaLaMnu
2 m. ŊaLaMta ŊaLaMtum ŊaLaMtim
f. ŊaLaMat ŊaLaMtin
3 m. ŊaLaMa ŊaLaMay ŊaLaMu
f. ŊaLaMo ŊaLaMto
non-past Imperfective
# g Sing. Dual Plural
1 c. 'aŊLoMa niŊLoMu niŊLoMa
2 m. tiŊLoMa tiŊLoMāna tiŊLiMūna
f. tiŊLiMīna tiŊLoMna
3 m. yiŊLoMa yiŊLoMāni yiŊLiMūna
f. tiŊLoMa tiŊLoMna
# g Sing. Dual Plural
1 c. 'aŊLoM niŊLoM
2 m. tiŊLoM tiŊLoMan tiŊLīMun
f. tiŊLīMin tiŊLoMna
3 m. yiŊLoM yiŊLoMan yiŊLīMun
f. tiŊLoM tiŊLoMna
Cohortative and Imperative
# g Sing. Dual Plural
1 c. aŊLoMā niŊLoMā
2 m. ŊiLoM(ā) ŊiLoMān ŊiLMū
f. ŊiLiMī ŊiLoMnā

# g Sing. Dual Plural
1 c. weŊŊaLāMti weŊŊaLāMnay weŊŊaLāMnu
2 m. weŊŊaLāMta weŊŊaLāMtum weŊŊaLāMtim
f. weŊŊaLāMat weŊŊaLāMtin
3 m. weŊŊaLāMa weŊŊaLāMay weŊŊaLāMu
f. weŊŊaLāMo weŊŊaLāMto
# g Sing. Dual Plural
1 c. wāŊLoM wanniŊLoM
2 m. wattiŊLoM wattiŊLoMan wattiŊLīMu
f. wattiŊLīMi wattiŊLoMa
3 m. wayyiŊLoM wayyiŊLoMan wayyiŊLīMu
f. wattiŊLoM wayyiŊLoMa
g Sing. Dual Plural
M ŊoLēMu ŊoLMāmi ŊoLMūma
F ŊoLēMatu ŊoLMatomi ŊoLMotu
Absolute Construct
ŊaLoMu ŊiLoMa

The Narrative Past Imperfective is most often referred to by the old Hebrew name, the wayyiqtol. Participles follow the predicable -u/-atu normal ending pattern. Infinitives are sometimes the same as participles, but usually are distinguish by ablaut.

Stem Actor Object Goal Local Reflex.
Simple G U N tG Gt
Intens. D E Dn tD Dt
Caus. Š O Šn Št
Stem Act. Obj. Goal Local Reflex.
Simple ŊaLaMu ŊuLāMu niŊLāMu tiŊLāMu ŊitLāMu
Intensive ŊiLLēMu ŊuLLēMu 'iŊŊaLLēMu tiŊaLLēMu ŊiteLLēMu
Causative hiŊLīMu huŊLīMu hiŊŊaLīMu hitŊaLīMu hiŊteLīMu
Old Hebrew Names
Stem Act. Obj. Goal Local Reflex.
Simple Qal Qal Passive Niphal - -
Intensive Piel Pual - - -
Caus. Hiphal Hophal - Hitpael? -


When one of the tri-consonantal roots is a "gutteral" (i.e. 𑀙/q, 𑀛/h, 𑀅/a, 𑀞/e, and sometimes 𑀭/r) or a "glide" (i.e. 𑀬/y or 𑀯/w), it will substantially change the conjugation paradigm of a verb. The PAH scribes felt they had to preserve the root letters, so there are five letters which may function solely as mater lectionis. They are indicated in the transcription with a parenthetic letter:

Colored Consonants
q h a e y w r
ø-colored No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
a-colored No No Yes No No Yes No
e-colored Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No
coda No mmm mmm No Yes Yes Yes
gem. No No No No Yes Yes No

The paradigm III-q verb is ŋalāqa, II-q is

The paradigm III-a verb is mācâ

The paradigm III-e verb is ŋamē'a

The paradigm III-y verb is galî

The paradigm III-w verb is ŋalow

The paradigm III-r(e) verb is

There is no paradigm for III-r because III never gets geminated, so it is entirely normal.


  1. ^ However, the qatal system does seem to have been only for the past tense, see Alleged Non-Past Uses of Qatal in Classical Hebrew, M.F. Rogland Ph.D dissertation
  2. ^ simple active/passive, intensive active/passive, causative active/passive, and reflexive
  3. ^ perfective and imperfect
  4. ^ indicative, imperative/cohortative/jussive, infinitive construct, and participial
  5. ^ an admittedly Austronesian way to discuss the infinitive absolute
  6. ^ unattested in the literature we have preserved from the ANE. Also known as "pa'il of šit".
  7. ^ reconstructed in PH from such forms as אֻּכַל and יֻּתַן