furuli at online.no
Tue Jul 11 03:32:01 EDT 2000
I do not think I will be able to continue the discussion much longer
because of lack of time, but see my comments on one important point below.
>I am back to the list after being off-line for a few days.
>I guess that if we want to go deeper in our discussion on the Hebrew
>verbal system and linguistic presuppositions behind our views, we cannot
>avoid aspect theory. I guess I need to explain how I see punctuality,
>and then you can pinpoint the differences. I am almost sure that you see
>it differently, because otherwise some of your comments do not make
>sense to me. This also relates to the discussion on punctuality a while
>back. I give some background that may be very familiar to you, but
>perhaps not so familiar to other list members.
>I see punctuality as an aspect that expresses an event with no
>linguistic time. Vendler's 'achievements' are punctual, and we may use
>the same tests that Vendler used to see if a verb is punctual.
>Achievements cannot be predicated for a period of time (e.g. 'to reach
>the top). While one can say 'It took him three hours to reach the
>summit', this does not mean that the 'reaching' of the summit went on
>during those three hours. (Vendler 1967:103-104.)
>While accomplishments can take an adverbial of minimum duration ('I was
>building the house for two days.'), achievements (punctuals) cannot (?I
>was reaching the top for two days.'). If someone finds my last
>example acceptable, still the reaching did not take place for two days
>(like the 'building' did), but rather an attempt. And 'reach' would have
>a different sense (polysemy). I do not note this because I would feel
>the above example is natural, but because this sort of phenomenon (even
>if it does not work with this sentence) does exist. This is
>Fanning's basis of dividing achievements into punctuals and climaxes
>(though I rather analyze it as aspectual polysemy).
>Also, I note that you rely heavily on Mari Broman Olsen's theory and
>seem to use a lot of her terminology. I have not read the book (though I
>have read about the book). So, if you use terms that she has defined, I
>may not get the same idea.
>Rolf Furuli wrote:
>> The point of Broman Olsen is that verbs which are marked for durativity,
>> such as "sing" and "run" can only have a durative interpretation. In a
>> context with such verbs we therefore know that durativity is not pragmatic,
>> i.e. it does not come from the context. To show that durativity is a
>> semantic (uncancelable) property, it is enough to show that the durativity
>> of *some* verbs is uncancelable. and similarly with dynamicity (=change),
>> and telicity. To speak of Hebrew, any verb which normally is viewed as
>> static can also have a non-static interpretation, and every verb that is
>> viewed as puncual can also have a non-punctual interpretation.
>How does she define durativity and punctuality? In particular, what
>tests does she apply to see if a verb is durative? I assume that here
>she does not use the familiar Vendlerian classification, since it is
>hard to see what would it mean to cancel durativity in that case.
>Vendler's test defines punctuality basically negatively: a verb cannot
>be put in a certain frame. I assume that cancelable durativity would not
>mean (as the view seems nonsensical to me) that a verb cannot be put in
>a certain frame (to make it punctual) and yet be put in the same frame
>(for it to be a durative verb to start with).
The reason why I use Broman Olsen's model, is that it is very simple, and
it helps us find which parts of a language is uncancelable and which are
not. In my mag. art. thesis of 1995 I used some of her principles without
knowing her model, so we have been thinking along the same lines. I suggest
that you read the book (If you know about reviews or comments on it, I
would like to know).
Both Broman Olsen and myself accept Vendler's scheme. I do not argue that
all events take some time, at least a few nanno-seconds, so all events are
durative. I accept that the "achievement" "She reached the top." is
punctual. However, there is no equipollent relationship between durativity
and punctuality, but rather a privative one. This means that a verb marked
for durativity can only have a durative interpretation, while a verb
unmarked for durativity can either have a durative or a punctual
interpretation. Thus punctuality in this case is "conversational pragmatic
Broman Olsen argues that achievements can have a durative interpretation.
(1) For days the unit has noticed a new paint on the wall.
(2) John was dying when the doctor arrived.
(3) He's been dropping the shoe for a long time.
(4) Ever since then I1ve been finding my way back.
The semantic nature of durativity and the pragmatic nature for
punctiliarity is extremely important for Hebrew. Let us use MC) ("find"),
(MWT) "die", YLD ("give birth"), PTX ("open") etc. as examples. If we could
take for granted that these and similar verbs *were* punctual, we would
have a fine tool to find the nature of Hebrew aspects. WAYYIQTOLs of such
verbs would for instance be strong arguments in favor of the view that this
form either represents past tense or the perfective aspect. In connection
with the mentioned mag.art. thesis I looked at all examples of these and
about 50 other of the most common "punctual" verbs. My conclusion (in line
whith what I later read in the work of Broman Olsen) was that no verb in
Hebrew *is* punctual, but every verb can have a durative interpretation.
The basis for this was that these verbs are found as YIQTOLs and
participles with past meaning. The grammar of Joüon/Muraoka (1991:368)
solves this problem by stating: "Finally there are some yiqtols with no
iterative or durative aspect, and thus having the value of qatal, which
would be the expected form." The (wrong) premise here, is that punctuality
is a semantic property, and this turns the situation upside down. The
conjugation should not be interpreted in the light of the verb, but the
verb in the light of the conjugation; the combination of verb (Aktionsart)
and conjugation (aspect) is what help us reach a particular interpretation.
I would like to add that the important place of factitivity and
resultativity in Hebrew strongly move everything away from punctuality. For
instance, was MWT ("die") and $KB ("rest" /with the fathers/") viewed as
punctual or as resultative? I will argue for the latter (see Deut 31:16; 2
Kings 22:20) /an immortal soul is not found in the Tanach/. This would for
instance give a durative interpretation of all the WAYYIQTOLs of these
University of Oslo
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