1 Samuel 1, bryan
decaen at chass.utoronto.ca
Thu Nov 26 08:09:03 EST 1998
what sources do you need for the phenomenon of "historical present"? I
take it as given for speakers of english. or do you mean as a proposal
for hebrew? why would anyone suggest it, given current assumptions? as
far as I know, it would be a novel proposal for biblical hebrew, but
funny you should mention hopper, that stuff proposes grammatical
aspect tracking, like real aspect in a real aspect-language like
russian, doesn't it? not at all what hebrew scholars are talking
about, is it?
grammatical aspect in Hebrew: (1) tenses default for a perfective
reading, (2) compositionality. for instance, $anah va$anah is
inherently imperfective, and so overrides a default reading: nothing
to do with the verb form. aspect by composition: aspect of the verbal
root, the grammatical form, nature of objects, adverbials: just like a
on my view, and I haven't worked this out (wish I had grad students to
work on this. sigh), there are signals. I don't have a full analysis,
but here are some clear ones to look at.
verses 1-3 inherently imperfective, background. not clear where to end
the background, but extends at least to end of v.3 presumably wayhi
hayyom as a pragmatic break, if nothing else.
verse 7 begins summary, generic/habitual. signal?? $anah v$anah,
nothing else: except it's in combination with ken, and then the
repetition of ken. inherently imperfective.
v.8 almost ambiguous, except context might suggest a break. what
*formal* break **could** you get? (I've always wondered about the
wayyiqtol idea as backbone, so many instances where wayyiqtol sequence
continues while the story has made a clear break.) similarly, other
wayyiqtols, how do *you know* you made a clear break?
independent of aspect, I would think the change of subject beginning
v.8 is significant.
v10 verbless, suggests a little background, inherently imperfective as
it leads into a wayyiqtol.
notice also the use of infinitive+verb end v10 as if it continued a
wayyiqtol chain. very interesting. continues with wattiddor without a
where are the breaks? still have to work on it. my dissertation has
the potential for working out a discourse grammar that makes Hebrew
behave like a normal language. but I haven't worked it out. what I do
have so far is,
(1) a pretty good guide to backgrounding introductions to passages
(2) a grammar of pronominalization that identifies in interesting ways
paragraphs and larger units. (for instance, the focus for the opening
chapters is Hannah all the way through, from 1:5 systematically.
haven't looked at it rigorously yet: make a good masters thesis)
happy holidays to those who celebrate the fall festival just a little
Vincent DeCaen, Ph.D. <decaen at chass.utoronto.ca>
Hebrew Syntax Encoding Initiative
c/o Deparment of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations
4 Bancroft Ave., 2d floor, University of Toronto, Toronto ON, M5S 1A1
The world needs open hearts and open minds, and it is not through
rigid systems, whether old or new, that these can be derived.
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