<wayyiqtol> again

peter_kirk at sil.org peter_kirk at sil.org
Fri Dec 31 19:31:11 EST 1999

Dear Rolf,

Many thanks for taking the time to explain this clearly. I was 
confused by the differences between Reichenbach's scheme as described 
by Galia and Broman Olsen's scheme as descibed by yourself. The 
contradictory terminology is certainly confusing to everyone.

You also managed to confuse me at first with the references to 
2-dimensional time. (Surely you don't mean complex (in the 
mathematical sense) time as it appears in the cosmological theories of 
Stephen Hawing?) But when I realised that this was a graphical 
convention (not in my opinion a very helpful one), I realised what you 
were trying to say.

Let me summarise how I now see the situation, and perhaps you and/or 
Galia can comment on whether I understand correctly now.

Galia's S (speech time) is the same as your SP.
Galia's R (reference time) is broadly the same as your C. 
Galia's E (event time) has been expanded into:
(a) a period of time which is your ET;
(b) a point of time, within or at the end of ET, which is your RT.

It seems that your C is the time indicated by a time phrase, or is the 
same as your ST when there is no indication of time. Your RT is the 
time indicated by the sentence, whereas your ET is the real world time 
or period of time of the event.

Now let me go back to the original point of this thread. Galia 
classifies WAYYIQTOL as building a new reference time - which 
apparently means a new C in your terminology. I suppose she means that 
in a typical WAYYIQTOL type chain (which, for the sake of example, we 
will assume to be a chain of sequential non-overlapping events, as 
this is the most common case):

In year N of king X event1(qatal), event2(wayyiqtol), 

C for event 1 is "year N of king X", C for event 2 is a new time 
(after C for event 1?), and C for event 3 is another new time.

Would you agree that WAYYIQTOL could be described as building a new C 
in cases like this? The problem with this analysis is that we need to 
define when the new C is. I guess the new C is the old RT - I think 
that was what Galia had in mind with her new reference time idea. That 
has the interesting corrolary that WAYYIQTOL, when sequential, becomes 
a future tense by your definition:

SP  = time of writing
C1  = year N of king X
ET1 = time of event 1
RT1 = C1 (so the QATAL is present) = nucleus or coda of ET1 
C2  = RT1
ET2 = time of event 2 > ET1
RT2 = nucleus or coda of ET1 > C2 (so the WAYYIQTOL is future)

This seems to be where your definitions are leading. We could 
paraphrase in English: "From the perspective of year N of king X, 
event 1 happens, then event 2 will happen, then event3...". Well, I 
suppose WAYYIQTOL being new C plus future tense would account for its 
similarity with YIQTOL which is often simply future. Of course, as 
Galia points out, the sequentiality is not 100%, so WAYYIQTOL is not 
semantically a future tense and more than YIQTOL is. But I fear that I 
have taken a wrong turning somewhere. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re[2]: <wayyiqtol> again
Author:  <furuli at online.no> at Internet 
Date:    30/12/1999 23:12

Dear Peter,

See my commente below:

>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.

Thin or thick air, RT (reference time) is a most important property of 
modern linguistics and it is *allways* different from C. I think that your 
problem is that you have a wrong view of the nature of ET (event time) and 
therefore cannot see the role of RT (reference time) which is of a 
completely different nature. Perhaps your problem can be solved by 
realizing that C (the deictic point) and RT (reference time) are relative 
points on a time-line (they are members of a deictic relationship) while ET 
is non-deictic, i.e the *internal* time of an event does not have any 
relationship (on a time-line) either to SP (speech time), C (the deictic 
point) or RT (reference time). The deictic relationship on a time-line can 
be between C (the deictic point) and RT (reference time), and SP (speech 

Let us use our former example to elucidate this further:

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

We start with (SP) speech time and ask about the relationship between it 
and C (the deictic point). On the theoretical time-line, C (Harry's 
arrival) comes after SP. Going further along the time-line we find RT 
(John's leaving). Thus we get

(2)  ---SP------C--------RT--

But where is E (event time)? In this model it does not exist on the 
time-line at all! E is the  *internal time* of the event (John's leaving) 
and while it has a non-deictic relationship to RT, it has no deictic 
relationship with either of the three. It is the *event* John's leaving 
that is pointed to by RT and not the inner constituency of this event,i.e. 
its E. True, the event "John's leaving" takes some time, but this time is 
non-deictic, and it is best to view it as having no  relative place on the 
time-line but rather to class it as *aspect*. This means that E is of 
another *kind* than SP,C, and RT. As an illustration we can say that  E has 
a relationship to RT, not  on the time-line, but rather a "perpendicular" 

The ingeniousness of Broman Olsen's work is that she has made a model of 
the English tenses where *all* the different expressions of the verbs in 
past, present, future, perfect and progressive constitute a perfect system 
where every member represents a tense or a tense and one aspect in 
combination, or a tense and two aspects in combination. What Comrie, based 
on Reichenbach calls "relative tense" is in her model "aspect", and the 
aspectual difference is based on where the "horizontal" RT hits 
(intersects) the "vertical" ET. Tenses in combination with progressive 
forms intersect ET at the nucleus (between beginning and end), and tenses 
in combination with perfect forms intersect ET at the coda (end).

Future tense + the imperfective aspect will be as figure (3), and future 
tense + the perfective aspect will be as figure (4)

                     !  ET beginning
(3)------C-----------RT !
                     !  ET end

                     !  ET beginning
(4)------C-----------RT ET end

Perhaps examples with past tense is easier to grasp. I use three examples 
based on Broman Olsen.

(5a) Peter Kirk had stitches in his leg.

(5b) Peter Kirk was having stitches in his leg.

(5c) Peter Kirk had had stitches in his leg.

All three encode past tense (RT comes before C). The difference is 
aspectual (NB, English aspect, not necessarily Hebrew aspect),i.e. it comes 
from different intersections of E by RT.

(5a) is aspectually unmarked, not specifying a point of intersection. 
(5b) asserts that RT intersects E at the nucleus, i.e it implies that 
stitches was put in some time in the past.
(5c) asserts that RT intersects E at the coda, i.e. at some time in the 
past the situation was at its coda. This implies that the coda is now over: 
the stitches are out.

Reichenbach's, Comrie's, and Broman Olsen's descriptions can all be used. 
Each of them represents a "drawing" (with symbols occurring in a particular 
relationship) of real situations. To use any of the models, we must have a 
clear understanding of the meaning of each symbol in that very model. 
Galia's description of Reichenbach, to which you refer, was therefore fine. 
In my opinion Broman Olsen's model is a great leap forward compared with 
Reichenbach, because she does not only "count the eyes" but she has 
"examined them" also. This has resulted in a system that strictly 
differentiates between factors which are pragmatic and which are semantic, 
and just as important, she has shown that E can viewed as having another 
quality than the other three. Broman Olsen has shown that the relationship 
between SP and  C is pragmatic, but the relationship between C and RT is 
semantic, i.e. it is uncancelable. This means that in a classification of 
Hebrew verbs in past, present, and future, the only thing that is needed is 
to find the relationship between C and RT; E can, to accomplish this task, 
be ignored.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo


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