[b-hebrew] tenses - Ex 3:14
VadimCherny at mail.ru
Thu Sep 15 08:05:27 EDT 2005
> "As in other languages, grammatical future tense in Hebrew might rarely
> refer to the current or past events, usually because of the deictic centre
> This does not invalidate the predominantly standard usage of tenses:
> tense generally refers to future events. When it is not, this is explicit
> from the context. None of your examples leaves a slightest doubt about the
> time reference. Ex3:14, on the contrary, contains no time reference, and
> there is no grammatical reason to prefer "I am" to "I will be."
> Perhaps, my difficulty in agreeing with you comes from the fact that my
native language is English. It is possible to use the present tense in a
narrative sense for the past but one cannot use the future tense to refer to
past events as one can in Hebrew. Nor could I use the past tense for future
events as the Perfect is occasionally used in Hebrew. You don't need context
to decide if "He will come" refers to a future or past event. You do need
that context in Hebrew.
No, not really. Like in Russian, by default Hebrew future tense means just
that, future reference. And by default, Hebrew past tense means past
reference. No context needed.
In cases of emphatic narration, context indicates deictic shifts.
Thus, context is only needed to prove irregular use of tenses. By default,
in Hebrew as in Russian, tenses are understood in their regular meaning. (He
lives in white house; house is white. He lives in the White House; context
warrants specific sense.)
And, again, context doesn't change the meaning of tenses. Future tense
remain future, just the time reference point shifts backwards. Narrator is
transposed into the past events, and what is past for his contemporaries, is
now future for him.
That concept is present in English, albeit in rudimentary form. "I met him,
and he asked me, What *will* we do tomorrow?"
> Looking at the first chapter of Exodus, I see that the author frequently
chose the imperfect for past events--Joseph died (verse 6),
it is past tense, wayiqtol. waw reverses the tense
> The theory I was taught was that the imperfect carried the idea that the
action is not completed. That would make the imperfect the natural and most
common way of conveying that an event occurs in the future. However, that
does not necessitate translating it as future.
This is circular logic, "If it is not future, that does not necessitate
translating it as future."
> I don't see an advantage to consistently translating the imperfect as a
What is the advantage of truth, anyway?
> the insistence that the imperfect is normally future makes that the
preferred translation. No thought would be given to the possibility that
another translation might be more appropriate if the future tense made
Not so. Deictic shifts are always explicit in the context, no interpetation
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