[b-hebrew] BH verbal system

James Christian jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com
Sun Jan 31 15:51:27 EST 2010


Apologies. I (as always) typed the response quickly and didn't check for
spelling mistakes and missing words. The first sentence should read:

I think the problem here is that you are not imagining English as a dead
language with no informants.

Reading it with the 'not' should make more sense. What I would like you to
do is to imagine English is a dead language and analyse the forms as they
would appear in a typical corpus. This is essentially what we are doing with
Hebrew. When doing this with English we see that the neither tense nor
aspect is grammaticalised in the *form*. In fact, in order to analyse any
useful grammaticalisations you have to call the most distinct functions of
the form homonyms for that grammaticalisation to work. This is interesting
from the point of view of a pyscholinguist. When the two functions differ in
tense you view the functions as so different you are prepared to analyse
them as homonyms. When the functions differ only in aspect you don't go to
that length. Could this indicate that tense is more important to us
psycholinguistically speaking than aspect?

James Christian





2010/1/31 <dwashbur at nyx.net>

> No, I'm not imagining any such thing.  However, if we're going to try and
> categorize
> homonymous forms in a slumgullian language like English, we have to think
> diachronically
> as well as synchronically.  I don't see your approach  doing this.
>
> However, since we're talking about English and this list is about Hebrew,
> we probably
> should desist now...
>
> On 31 Jan 2010 at 20:32, James Christian wrote:
>
> >
> > I think the problem here is that you are imagining English as a dead
> > language with no
> > informants. If we were to analyse a corpus of English as a dead
> > language with no informants
> > then we would come to the conclusion that neither tense nor aspect
> > is grammaticalised in the
> > verb form. The fact that we analyse the modern language as
> > informants and can categorise the
> > homonyms shows that our perceptions treat the usages so differently
> > that we feel fine saying that
> > they are different words. Perhaps we could argue the case that this
> > was so if it were 1 verb out of
> > a million where we saw this phenomenon. But we don't. We see it
> > consistently with all verbs. We
> > are clearly seeing a number of distinct functions mapping onto the
> > same form. When we are
> > faced with the task of translation it is the function rather than
> > the form which dominates whether
> > a translation will be high quality or sub-standard. In a round about
> > kind of way I could agree with
> > your analysis of calling the different uses of past inflected
> > English verb forms as homonyms but
> > then that would only inspire the question 'So, how do we know how
> > many homonyms the B-
> > Hebrew verb forms represent' and so we eventually get back to the
> > same problem whether we
> > analyse the different uses as homonyms or not. That is to say the
> > problem of mapping the form
> > onto its function and therefore how to best go about choosing the
> > most natural translation in a
> > target language.
> > James Christian
> >
> > 2010/1/31 <dwashbur at nyx.net>
> >
> >
> >     On 31 Jan 2010 at 19:59, James Christian wrote:
> >
> >     >
> >     > Hi David, but as you yourself said 'the forms are identical'.
> > We
> >     > call it a subjunctive when we have
> >     > certain pragmatic clues (e.g. clause starts with 'if') and
> > when the
> >     > forms are used with a 'past'
> >     > function we call them 'past simple'. And yet there are no
> > different
> >     > forms to analyse. Other than
> >     > contextual clues they are completely identical and so we have
> > to
> >     > analyse the form rather than
> >     > our perceptions of its uses.
> >
> > Not at all. We understand that they are homonyms. In English the two
> > forms melded into a
> > single visual/auditory string; the qualifier "if" is our cue that we
> > have one homonym and not
> > the other. They are not the same "word" (however that term is
> > defined) distinguished only
> > by "certain pragmatic clues." I agree that BH didn't grammaticalize
> > either tense or aspect (I
> > extend this to the notion of "sequence," but that's another topic)
> > but you have not shown this
> > for English. That's my only quibble.
> >
> > Dave Washburn
> >
> > http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
> > _______________________________________________
> > b-hebrew mailing list
> > b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> > http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
> >
> >
> >
>
>
> Dave Washburn
>
> http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
> _______________________________________________
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
>



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