Prototype Theory and Hebrew Tense/Aspect

Dave Washburn dwashbur at
Tue Dec 14 09:46:50 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 
> linguist!

I know that the separation that I practice is pretty new to the field of 
Hebrew studies, and will likely take longer than I'm likely to live to 
catch on...since Huovila apparently doesn't separate the fields, he 
probably doesn't consider what he's doing an extension, so there 
would be a need for some direct dialog there...good point about 
aspect, I hadn't considered it from that angle.  At the same time, I 
wonder if aspect is a feature of the semantics of clauses, or of 
words and phrases?  As far as whether it "works," I think that 
depends on how one defines "works" :-)  I would offer this tentative 
definition and throw it out for comment: a theory "works" if it offers 
the most effective and simplest explanation for the observed 
behaviors of a syntactic form, while demonstrating fewer problems 
and counter-examples than other theories relating to the same form.

> Yes, your set of features looks good, and you're probably right that 
> sequence does not really fit here.

OK, assuming we're on level ground there, then, and working within 
Huovila's theory, which features do you see coming to the fore in 
BH usage of the wayyiqtol?

Dave Washburn
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.
                                   Psalm 86:11

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