BH, tense-aspect, questions for rolf

Vincent DeCaen decaen at
Sun Dec 6 09:13:17 EST 1998


your full answers have proved enlightening. thank you. they have
raised even more serious questions, and perhaps I can ask you to
indulge me again. (btw, I have your masters thesis on disk, but as yet
have not found a guru who knew what format you used or how to get the
fonts: could you send something offlist with detailed instructions?
I'm in a Linux environment but have access to dos/windows.)

(1) if you accept short/long as a modal distinction, why not be
consistent and accept the wayyiqtol as decomposed into wa + y +
yiqtol, where the yiqtol is the modal? see Palmer "Mood" 1985 on
consecutives and mood in the world's languages.

(2) Porter assigning Greek "tenselessness" is beyond the pale: just
guessing that his work wouldn't be acceptable for professional
linguists in university departments, but who knows. would be safe to
say that Porter is nonstandard by quite a bit. is Porter your main

(3) The "imperfect" in Greek was misnamed: let's call it "fred". the
fred-form can be easily analyzed compositionally as PAST, period. the
IMPERFECTIVE is unmarked in Greek and doesn't need to be specified.
just to be perfectly (pun intended) clear, are you keeping grammatical
aspect (IMPERFECTIVE) separate from a traditional label "imperfect"
(fred-form)? I ask because it has been a common misunderstanding over
the years to equate fred/imperfect with Hebrew's sue/imperfect/yiqtol.
that would be a grave mistake. traditional labels are perilous things. 

(4) Why is Origen, forgive my ignorance, a privileged source for the
liturgical reading preserved by temple scribes?

(5) Here's the million dollar question: what definition of aspect,
operational or otherwise, are you using that would exclude the
participle from bearing progressive aspect (at least as verb or
adjective)? in all the literature there is not one scholar, unless you
know of one, that doesn't recognize the aspectual properties of the
participle. what warrant do you have to contradict that one? this is
important since all argumentation ca.1990-present relies on this
anchor point.

these questions should pretty much do it. I look forward to the answers.

btw, unless you like theoretical/generative linguistics applied to
phonology, and lots of statistical stuff, you might not be as excited
by henry's work. further, my "The Tiberian Way" is motivated in part
as an answer to Henry's work. so who knows. I do know one thing: there
is currently no appetite for advanced phonological work in this little
field of ours. just <sigh> discourse this, and <sigh> discourse that.

Vincent DeCaen, Ph.D.  <decaen at>

Hebrew Syntax Encoding Initiative
c/o Deparment of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations
4 Bancroft Ave., 2d floor, University of Toronto, Toronto ON, M5S 1A1

...the idea of a perfect language risks becoming nothing more than a
waste bin for prejudices which have not survived confrontation with
linguistic reality.
  --Mark Sainsbury, "Russell", 1979: p15

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