Prototype Theory and Hebrew Tense/Aspect

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Tue Dec 14 17:34:18 EST 1999


> washburn:
> >>[+past +perfective +realis -dependence -subordination]
> kirk:
> >Yes, your set of features looks good, and you're probably right that 
> >sequence does not really fit here.
> 
> well, if you're talking prototype (and network semantics) 
> 
> then you'll have to do something more with vayyiqtol. 

Not necessarily.  That's what we're trying to sort out.

> the features listed above are the prototype of qatal
> in narrative and direct speech, (+ ki-clauses and asher- clauses).
> if you don't like sequence for vayyiqtol, and i wouldn't push it, 
> then at least +thematic ('theme advancing saliency').
> 
> see how easy it is to talk about a prototype?

Of course it's easy to talk about it, but demonstrating it is another 
matter.  I find that beginning an investigation with a foregone 
conclusion doesn't produce much in the way of improved 
knowledge.  And the set I suggested is hardly what you describe, 
since it includes [-dependence -subordination] which is definitely 
not a feature set of ki and asher clauses!

> as for aspect and tense, they are both semantic categories, and to be
> distinguished from the lexically bound semantics of 'kind of action'. 
> semantics, of course, must be integrated to syntax and surface structures
>  in order to have any linguistic relevancy for a particular language. 

"Of course"?  Once again we seem to be assuming what we're 
setting out to prove,  otherwise known as circular reasoning.  
Semantics do indeed need to be integrated into syntax and surface 
structures, but the key phrase there is "surface structures."  
Seeking to determine the force of a particular syntactic feature 
necessarily takes us well below surface structure, so the 
statement is correct but irrelevant.

Dave Washburn
http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
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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