[b-hebrew] BH verbal system
jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com
Sun Jan 31 06:17:16 EST 2010
Yeah Stoney. I think it is quite clear what Rolf meant. A text which is
largely relating events in the past (call it a narrative, call it what you
like) is, by definition, going to be dominated by clauses that relate events
in the past. The question is which part of the clause carries the past
Is it the verb form itself?
Is it adverbs of time (e.g. yesterday)?
Is it the noun form (some languages do this)?
Is it the clause in its entirety?
Is it something in the wider context (pragmatics)?
While I agree that Rolf's analysis of the verb forms has great value and has
inspired many people to start asking the right questions the main problem I
have with Rolf's method of analysis is this:
If we were to employ the method used by Rolf to analyse verb forms I'm sure
that we would get pretty much the same results for every human language.
That is to say that we would conclude from the data that tense is not
grammaticalised in any verb forms of any language.
Yesterday I went to the shop (unambiguous past, perfective aspect)
Sally went to the shop every day of her life (unambgiuous past, imperfective
aspect (repeated action)
As I went to the shop I saw a big fat bird eating rice (unambiguous past,
imperfective aspect (continuous action interrupted by a perfective action))
If I went to the shop I'd buy it for you (hypothetical future)
Conclusion. Past tense is not grammaticalised in the English 'simple past'.
And so this calls into question the value of Rolf's analysis for real world
tasks like translation. We could analyse the verb form 'went' for
uncancellable semantic meaning and get surprising results but for real world
tasks like translating the verb form 'went' into, say, Italian this
knowledge of itself would be of little use. The sentences above clearly show
several different uses of the verb form and to translate them properly it is
the usage of the verb which will likely dominate its translation.
2010/1/31 K Randolph <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
> On Sat, Jan 30, 2010 at 4:46 PM, s.a.breyer <s.a.breyer at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Rolf:
> > My faith in the admirable clarity and rigor of your analysis is
> > profoundly shaken by this:
> > > It is a fundamental linguistic truth that verbs used in narratives
> > have past reference.
> > On what basis do you make this assertion? It seems to me neither
> > self-evident nor borne out by linguistic fact, teste folktale and joke
> > on the one hand, and the practice of many eminent writers of fiction on
> > the other.
> > Stoney Breyer
> > Writer / Touchwood Creative
> > In Biblical Hebrew, where almost all the narratives are history, i.e.
> I don’t think he means modern authors, nor folklore.
> Karl W. Randolph.
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> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
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