# <wayyiqtol> again

peter_kirk at sil.org peter_kirk at sil.org
Wed Dec 29 20:28:09 EST 1999

```Dear Rolf,

Thank you for clarifying and qualifying your earlier statement, even
before you received my protest. I should explain that I was simply
trying to use the definitions, following Reichenbach, which Galia so
clear. She wrote (partly cut):

The notion of R(eference time) was introduced by Reichenbach
(1947) in his wonderful book ELEMENTS OF SYMBOLIC LOGIC.  The
theory prevailing at the time was that of Tense-Logic (TL), which
analyzed the tenses in terms of two points: the event-time
(henceforth: E-time) and the speech-time (henceforth: S-time).
According to this approach, the sentence in (1) below is analyzed
as follows: the E-time precedes the S-time; while the sentence in
(2) is analyzed as saying: E-time follows S-time.
1. Mary ate a banana.
2. Mary will eat a banana.
3. Mary has eatn a banana.
Reichenbach shows that, at least for English, TL analysis is not
accurate. E.g., the sentence in (3) above is also understood to
state that the E-time preceds the S-time. So what is the
difference between (1) and (3)? Reichenbach claims that speakers
take into account a third point of time, he labels Reference-Time
(henceforth: R-time, or just R). So, every sentence (in English)
is to be analyzed according to THREE times (in Reichenbach -
points of time; Partee and other linguists believe the relevant
unit is intervals): S, E and R. According to him, the difference
between (1) and (3) is in the relationship of the three times. In
(1) E and R associate, both precede S, while in (3) S and R
associate, both follow E. The sentence in (4) clearly shows that
there are three times:
As Reichenbach determines for the past-perfect sentence in (4),
the E-time of Mary's leaving precedes the S-time, but also the
R-time determined by the adverbial I put in brackets...

The simple-past in (1) builds an R-time, while the past-perfect
in (4) does not. I conclude that the past-perfect is NOT an
R-building form (as well as the present and the future perect,
but for the currant discussion this is not important). That is
why without the bracketed sentence, (4) would be ungrammatical. A
sentence like "Mary had eaten" cannot be interpreted without
providing an R-time. This can be done within the sentence itself
as in "By five PM Mary had eaten" or in "When John got home for
the context. E.g., via a dialogue where the context or the
interlocuter provide the relevant R-time. The same is to be said
about the progressive in English. The sentence "John was eating"
is ungrammatical untill an R-time is provided (at five PM, when
the phone suddenly rung). Note that the simple past in English
MAY also be dependent on the context to be provided with an
R-time. In (1) above the simple past sentence builds its own
R-time, but in (5) below the stative sentence uses the R-time of
the previous sentece:
5. John came in. There were three men in the room.

So I think that you, Rolf, are correct in writing:

(1) After Harry has arrived, John will leave.

In (1) ST (speech time) is the time of the utterance. ST has
little importance in this example, as you claimed is the case
generally. If I understand you correctly, you will say that
Harry's arrival is R or RT (reference time) and E (event time) is
John's leaving. If this is what you say, you are right if you
claim that what counts is the relationship between RT and E, and
that S is irrelevant.

- except that I might ask Galia to confirm that you and I have
correctly understood her definitions in this case. This sentence
differs from Galia's (4) in that the subordinate clause with "after",
unlike the one with "when", identifies not a specific point in time
but an open period with no end point. But it does seem that what you
are calling the deictic point is what Comrie and Galia are both
calling the reference time or reference point. You then use the term
"reference time" in another sense, which is confusing to everyone.

I'm afraid I don't understand your sentence:

(2) After Harry has arrived, John will have left.

I don't think this is good English, at least with no further context.
This is because, as Galia wrote above, "A sentence like "Mary had
eaten" cannot be interpreted without providing an R-time." Although
Harry's arrival is a potential R-time, the "after" clause replaces
that R-time with an open period, whereas the English perfect forms
require a closed R-time. The sentence would be correct if it started
"When Harry arrives", which gives a definite R-time (again in Galia's
terms).

As for Ruth 4:3, I actually prefer a quite different interpretation of
this passage, which is that Naomi had at an earlier time sold this
land to a third party and the kinsman's duty was now to buy it back
from the third party, in accordance with Leviticus 25:25. That would
make the QATAL form here a genuine past, a normal background X-QATAL
clause. Of course presumably the actual seller was Elimelech, but now
Naomi is in the position of the one who sold it and is the one for
whom it should be bought back. Chapters 2-3 hardly make sense if Naomi
had a plot of land of her own. Also the English "is selling" is
correct because this includes offering for sale: "I am selling my car"
means not that the paperwork is in progress but that I am advertising
and looking for a buyer. (This is not just "I am selling" meaning "I
am about to sell"; I could also write "This time last year I was
selling my car, but I never found a buyer.") I am not claiming that
the Hebrew MKR means the same, though I would not rule it out.

But you have still left me confused about exactly what you do mean by
RT. In your interpretation of Ruth 4:3, it seems that your RT is
different from C, but when is it? It looks like some time which you
have pulled out of thin air which comes in the middle of the process
of selling. Maybe I just need to read Broman Olsen's works, but I do
not have them to hand.

So let me see how I would analyse your sentences, and I will see how

(1) After Harry has arrived, John will leave.

S: speech time
E: John's leaving (also apparently your RT in this case)

E>S (so future); E>R ("after"); probably R>S; aspect undefined

(2) After Harry has arrived, John will have left.

I can only take this to mean "There will be a time after Harry has
arrived before which John will have left."

S: speech time
E1=R2: the indefinite future time (is this your RT?)
E2: John's leaving

E2>S (so future); E1(=R2)>R1; (E1=)R2>E2; probably R1>S; perfective as
E1 and E2 are complete

But this sentence actually tells us nothing about the relationship of
R1 and E2 and fails to specify E1=R2, which underlines its
meaninglessness. It could be taken as meaning that John will complete
his leaving (perfective) whereas in (1) this is not explicit, but this
is not a natural English way to make this distinction.

(3) Ruth 4:3 He then said to the next-of-kin,  "Naomi, who has
come back from the country of Moab, is selling (QATAL) the parcel
of land that belonged to our kinsman Elimelech.

S: speech time (Boaz's words)
E: Naomi's sale (also apparently your RT in this case)
R: also speech time (your C)

E>S (so future); R=S; aspect undefined

I appreciate your point that E may be not a point in time but a period
of time; but in none of these cases is there any suggestion that the
event is drawn out over a period of time.

I would be grateful for your further comments, to help me to see if I
to see a clear definition of RT as it appears in your scheme, for as
you see that is where I am confused.

Peter Kirk

_________________________________
Subject: Re: <wayyiqtol> again
Author:  <furuli at online.no> at Internet
Date:    29/12/1999 14:43

Dear Peter,

I would like to add a few words to my last post. I wrote that "Your
view about E,R. and S in Hebrew studies is definitely wrong!"
Reflecting a little more on your words, I suppose you think correctly,
and you try to say the same as I try to say, but you use other
symbols. Perhaps the reason for this is that Comrie "Tense", 1985, pp
14,58 uses the term "reference point" to what I call "the deictic
point", and this is easy to confuse with "reference time".  If I had
realized your thinking before I sent my post, I would have used other
words.

It is not easy for members of the list to get hold of the relationship
between E (event time), RT or R (reference time), S or SP (speech
time) and C (the deictic point), so I would like to add an example:

(1) After Harry has arrived, John will leave.

In (1) ST (speech time) is the time of the utterance. ST has little
importance in this example, as you claimed is the case generally. If I
understand you correctly, you will say that Harry's arrival is R or RT
(reference time) and E (event time) is John's leaving. If this is what
you say, you are right if you claim that what counts is the
relationship between RT and E, and that S is irrelevant.

However, I would say that Harry's arrival is C (the deictic point) and
not RT, E (event time) is the the time from the start to the end of
the leaving incident of John, and RT (reference time) is the
intersection of E at the nucleus (meaning that the aspect is
imperfective). As a comparison, look at (2).

(2) After Harry has arrived, John will have left.

In (2) ST is the time of the utterance, Harry's arrival is C, the time
from the start to the end of the leaving incident of John is E, and RT
intersects E at the coda (indicating that the aspect is perfective).

Let me apply this to a verse in the book of Ruth (NRSV)

(3) Ruth 4:3 He then said to the next-of-kin,  "Naomi, who has come
back from the country of Moab, is selling (QATAL) the parcel of land
that belonged to our kinsman Elimelech.

In (3) SP (speech time) is both the time of the utterance and C (the
deictic point). E (event time) must be the time from the start to the
end of the selling incident. What is the relationship between C and E?
E comes after C because the selling incident had not even started# (in
spite of the English progressive present, which is strange). What is
the relationship between C and RT? RT must come after C because the
selling incident was not completed, it must intersect E at the
nucleus. This gives the result that that QATAL  has future meaning and
it has the same characteristics as the English *imperfective* (sic!)
aspect. The only possible way to circumvent this *strange*
conclusion,as far as I can see, is to show that MKR can have the
meaning "to offer something for sale",i.e. a telic event which is
finished at the time something is offered but not sold. However, I am
not aware of any examples of such a meaning.

I hope the examples above can clear up some points for somebody, and
at the same time show the great help an analysis of the relationship
between C and RT can be when we seek the time reference of Hebrew
verbs.

# This is also seen in v 5.

Regards
Rolf

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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