[b-hebrew] Hebrew grammar, (was Zech 6:8)
farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 25 18:11:43 EST 2005
Just a few more clarifications below.
> According to B. Comrie (1985) "Tense" pp. vii, 9 is defined as
> "grammaticalized expression of location in time". To accept this does not
> require that one accepts Broman Olsen?s distinction between "semantic
> meaning" and "conversational pragmatic implicature". But it indicates that
> when an author uses "temporal reference" s/he does not take any standpoint
> as to whether it is the context or the verb form that signals the time of
> the verb to the audience. But when "tense" is used according to Comrie?s
> definition (and
> I think that few linguists would disagree with him), it means that the time
> is an intrinsic part of the verb form itself. So when you used the term
> "tense" and at the same time said that tense "can be neutralised in certain
> constructions" it made me wonder what you meant by "tense".
I accept Comrie's definition, but in accepting it I don't think it must
box one to deny other distinctions which can be marked by the verb.
Aspectual distinctions may still be signalled. (As an aside, Kurylowicz,
who held to an aspectual view and who is often quoted in support of the
aspectual view, later modified his position to say that a language only
makes aspectual distinctions after if firstly marks tense. His view may
be debatable, but it's interesting.)
But since Hebrew is a balanced language in that dependent clauses do not
have to contain special deranked verbs, it does allow for the
possibility that neutralisation can occur, as in other languages. In my
opinion this is what happens in Hebrew and neutralisation of tense and
aspect (and probably mood) occurs. The thing that further research must
confirm is in what constructional environments this occurs and with what
meaning. (But, again, I realise that this is in my opinion, as some
theoretical approaches to language reject the existence of
constructions.) The reason I raised the issue was simply to show that
not everyone rejects "tense" as relevent to the Hebrew verbal system.
Although Buth in his grammar does not use the word "neutralisation", the
data he describes with the terminology of "masking" is what I have
called neutralisation. Again, with a system of such few verbal forms, it
is not surprising that debate has continued as people consistently argue
for a tense-only or aspect-only positions. The fact that the debate has
continued means that there is probably a problem somewhere. You yourself
have sort to resolve it in the direction of modifying the notion of
"aspect", but I think allowing for both tense and aspect as Buth has
done, with the allowance for "neutralisation" (or "masking") adequately
describes the data in my opinion (we'll differ here on this).
Regarding balancing vis-a-vis deranking, see pgs 54-60 of:
Cristofaro, Sonia. Subordination. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
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