Prototype Theory and Hebrew Tense/Aspect
peter_kirk at sil.org
peter_kirk at sil.org
Tue Dec 14 12:23:15 EST 1999
Thanks for your quick response. I don't think Kimmo Huovila or I are
making the strict distinctions you are making between syntax,
semantics and discourse structure. Maybe we should. He gives no
further justifications e.g. for any extension into new fields, maybe
his references do (I haven't read them). Anyway, if aspect is a
semantic feature, are extensions being made? My justification would
be, if it works, it's justified, but then I'm not a theoretical
Yes, your set of features looks good, and you're probably right that
sequence does not really fit here.
______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Prototype Theory and Hebrew Tense/Aspect
Author: <dwashbur at nyx.net> at Internet
Date: 13/12/1999 14:51
I haven't read the thesis yet, but does he give any justification for
extending prototype theory from semantics into syntax?
I resemble that remark :-) Again, I'd like to see some justification
for concluding that this theory is applicable to grammatical
categories (syntax). It may have possibilities, but I wonder how we
go about defining prototypes in syntax: see below.
> So perhaps we can have another go at understanding the Hebrew verb
> system on the basis of this prototype theory. We can, for example,
> easily define a prototypical WAYYIQTOL in terms of narrative sequence,
> past time and perfectivity. Yet we have seen that no one of these
> three characteristics applies to all WAYYIQTOLs. With the prototype
> theory we would not expect them to. Similarly we can define the other
> verb forms - some of which, expecially weqatal, might well end up with
> multiple foci. Anyone interested in pursuing this path with me? For
> that matter, has anyone pursued it already? I would be interested in
> any responses.
I'm interested in pursuing it; I would begin by suggesting that
narrative sequence doesn't really qualify as a prototypical category
because it is a discourse-level phenomenon, not a syntactic
(clause-level) one. I could go with past tense and perhaps
perfectivity (though I am inclined to believe that aspect is a
semantic feature, not a syntactic one) and would throw in realis
mode, producing a prototype that looks something like
[+past +perfective +realis -dependence -subordination]
Let the games begin!
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.
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