Long: Re: QATAL C/RT [Statistics]

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Wed Aug 2 11:09:13 EDT 2000

Henry Churchyard wrote:

>> Henry Churchyard wrote:
>>>> From: Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no
>>>> Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 19:31:12 +0200
>>>> WEQATAL 6087              %               QATAL  13922    %
>>>>         PAST      357     5,8             7450           53,5
>>>>         PRESENT   192     3,15            2505           18
>>>>         FUTURE    4100    67.35            965           6,9
>>>>         PERFECT   55      0,9             2605           18,7
>>>>         MODAL     147     2,41
>>>>         IMPERATIVE 643    10,56
>>>>         FINAL     31      0,5
>>>>         COND,PROT 312     5,12
>>>>         COND,APOD 123     2,02
>>>>         GNOMIC    48      0,78
>>>>         OTHER     79      1,29
>>>>                   6087
>>>                                  [Adds up to 13525, 397 forms missing?]
>>> If you say that "PAST" and "PERFECT" meanings are the proper
>>> province of QATAL, and the other meanings are the proper province
>>> of WEQATAL, then at most ((13922-(7450+2605))/13922) or 28% of
>>> QATAL forms have "unexpected" meanings, while only ((357+55)/6087)
>>> or 7% of WEQATAL forms have "unexpected" meanings. [...]  So all in
>>> all, I'm actually surprised by how strongly your statistics
>>> distinguish WEQATAL from QATAL.  If you ran a statistical "level of
>>> significance" test on the following table, it would probably come
>>> out fairly strong:
>>>                  WEQATAL       QATAL
>>>              .------------+-------------.
>>>    PAST &    |            |             |
>>>    PERFECT   |    412     |   10065     |
>>>              +------------+-------------+
>>>   Other      |            |    3470 ?   |
>>>   Meanings   |   5675     |   or 3867 ? |
>>>              `------------+-------------'
>> Statistics can be of course read in different ways, particularly if
>> the premises are different. I take the English system of tense and
>> aspect as a point of departure, because it can be clearly defined. I
>> am not aware of a better explanation than the one given by Mari
>> Broman Olsen, and I therefore use her model. As a background to my
>> arguments, let me give a sketch of the English system based on
>> Broman Olsen:
>The exact definitions of semantic categories is somewhat outside my
>main area of expertise (so it's not very useful to try to debate these
>with me in detail) -- and it's not actually really the main point at
>issue here, anyway.
>I'm just seeing what happens when one takes seriously the numbers you
>gave, and pointing out that statistically they don't really support
>the conclusions you've drawn from them (in the case of QATAL vs.
>WEQATAL).  In a lot of cases, social scientists would kill to get
>2-by-2 tables with the weight of the data as strongly distributed
>along a diagonal of the table as is the case with 412:10065::5675:3470
>and 412:10065::5675:3867 (still not entirely sure which of these two
>represents the actual data here).
>I fed the following lines as input into the SAS statistical program,
>and got the output appended below (must use a non-proportional font to
>0 0 412
>0 1 10065
>1 0 5675
>1 1 3867
>PROC PRINT DATA=freqdata;
>                     FURULI WEQATAL VS. QATAL:
>                                                21:31 Tuesday, August 1, 2000
>                         The FREQ Procedure
>                     Table of SEMANT by CONJUG
>                SEMANT     CONJUG
>                Frequency|
>                Percent  |
>                Row Pct  |
>                Col Pct  |       0|       1|  Total
>                ---------+--------+--------+
>                       0 |    412 |  10065 |  10477
>                         |   2.06 |  50.28 |  52.34
>                         |   3.93 |  96.07 |
>                         |   6.77 |  72.24 |
>                ---------+--------+--------+
>                       1 |   5675 |   3867 |   9542
>                         |  28.35 |  19.32 |  47.66
>                         |  59.47 |  40.53 |
>                         |  93.23 |  27.76 |
>                ---------+--------+--------+
>                Total        6087    13932    20019
>                            30.41    69.59   100.00
>              Statistics for Table of SEMANT by CONJUG
>       Statistic                     DF       Value      Prob
>       ------------------------------------------------------
>       Chi-Square                     1   7280.0923    <.0001
>       Likelihood Ratio Chi-Square    1   8236.6477    <.0001
>       Continuity Adj. Chi-Square     1   7277.4678    <.0001
>       Mantel-Haenszel Chi-Square     1   7279.7287    <.0001
>       Phi Coefficient                      -0.6030
>       Contingency Coefficient               0.5164
>       Cramer's V                           -0.6030
>                         The FREQ Procedure
>              Statistics for Table of SEMANT by CONJUG
>       Statistic                              Value       ASE
>       ------------------------------------------------------
>       Gamma                                -0.9457    0.0029
>       Kendall's Tau-b                      -0.6030    0.0050
>       Stuart's Tau-c                       -0.5542    0.0054
>       Somers' D C|R                        -0.5554    0.0054
>       Somers' D R|C                        -0.6548    0.0050
>       Pearson Correlation                  -0.6030    0.0050
>       Spearman Correlation                 -0.6030    0.0050
>                        Sample Size = 20019
>Here you see that the hypothesis of "independence" (statistical
>non-correlation between meaning and conjugation) is rejected at the
>p=.0001 level (which is one five-hundredth of the p=.05 level which is
>usually accepted as adequate -- therefore the hypothesis that there is
>no significant difference in meaning between QATAL and WEQATAL is
>rejected five hundred times more conclusively than is usually
>considered necessary).
>Finally, the three "nominal" measures of "effect size" or association
>shown at the end of the first statistics listing, as well as the
>"ordinal" measures of "effect size" or association shown in the second
>statistics listing (available here since all 2x2 tables are by
>definition ordinal tables), have values which are all in the 0.5-0.6
>range (except for Gamma, which generally has a meaninglessly inflated
>value in tables with very few rows and columns).  These "effect size"
>measures indicate a respectable degree of observed correlation between
>meaning and conjugation (and one which is solidly statistically
>significant, since the "ASE"'s, or estimated standard deviations of
>the values, are less than a tenth of the size of the values
>So all in all, I'd say that your own data has shown the existence of a
>significant and significantly large meaning difference between QATAL
>and WEQATAL.  It's not 100%, of course, but many statistical
>correlations can be quite significant and solidly established without
>being 100%.
>I'd be curious to see your data for YIQTOL vs. WEYIQTOL vs. WAYYIQTOL
>by various meanings, in the form of a two dimensional table, to see
>how they would calculate out:
>              YIQTOL    WEYIQTOL    WAYYIQTOL
>Meaning 1
>Meaning 2
>Meaning 3
>Meaning 4
>  ...
>(But the data has to fill a two-dimensional table to be able to do
>much calculating on it: a list of the distribution of occurrences of
>WEYIQTOL by meaning is not all that useful alone, in this context.)

Dear Henry,

This post of yours is really excellent for two reasons:

1) Given your premises, your statistical analysis is completely devastating
for my view that WEQATALs and QATALs are parts of one and the same
2) It is a very good illustration of the most pressing problem in the
studies of the Hebrew verb.

I agree with your last words that "a list of the distribution of occurrences of
WEYIQTOL by meaning is not all that useful alone, in this context.". Let us
expand this somewhat and apply this to QATAL and WEQATAL as well. The data
you use in your analysis are given by me, but what are the premises behind
your anaysis of these data? The basic premise seems to be that QATAL and
WEQATAL in some sense are different *tenses* whose temporal uses are
restricted. But this is what is being discussed and therefore cannot be
presumed. Using a similar premise (there are four conjugations which are
tenses (or aspects)) is what we can see in most studies of Hebrew verbs,
and it is certainly a weekness, because the arguments become completely
circular. Let me illustrate this point.

Suppose now that we do not know English, and we are working to find the
meaning of forms like "go", "went", "gone", and compounds like "will go".
We start with verbs similar to "go" and "work" and study the relationship
between C and RT in these verbs in a number of texts. Suppose that we get
the following results.

Text A

Past (RT>C): 3
Present (RT=C): 19
Future: (RT<C): 410

Text B

Past (RT>C): 725
Present (RT=C): 25
Future: (RT<C): 9

How shall we analyze these numbers statistically? Given that there is a
semantic relationship between C and RT in simple past (RT>C), and in future
(RT<C), as shown in Broman Olsen's model, we will draw the conclusion that
the verbs in the  two texts are not marked for tense. This is a necessary
conclusion, because we find all the three relationships between C and RT in
the "go/work"-group.

Could we reach the conclusion that forms like "go", "work" etc, though
being morphologically similar, belonged to two different semantic groups?
Not if our only premise was the particular semantic relationship between
the past and future tense and the deictic point! True, the distribution of
the forms is uneven, but the only way (that I can see) to use this to
conclude that the forms of text A and text B belong to different semantic
groups, is to introduce an extra premise, namely, that the forms of the
same semantic group cannot both have future reference and past reference.
This premise indicates that we assume that the forms are marked for tense
(but this is what we are discussing).

But which situations for English present could fit the statistics of text A
and text B? As for B we could imagine a vivid account with a predominance
of the socalled historical present. English present if often used with
future reference, and there is no problem to imagine an author who as a
rule use present in an account about the future. The basic error in many
studies of Hebrew verbs, is that it is completely rejected that the same
verb form can be used both for past, present, and future. Therefore, when
so many WEQATALs have future reference and so many QATALs have past
reference, they MUST  belong to two different semantic groups! But this is
very bad semantics indeed!

Let me now give an example from Hebrew. In my last post I gave a statistics
of the participles in Genesis.

PAST 111
PRE-PAST 4 = 37,3 % (Pa+Pre-P together)
PERFECT 2  30,8 % (Pr+Perf together)
FUTURE 19  6,1 %
MODAL 12  4 %


How shall we interpret the 115 forms with past, 95 with present and 19 with
future reference? Given the model I use, the only conclusion is that the
participle is not marked for tense. If you feed the participle data as
input into the SAS statistical program, and assume that the participle *is
marked* for tense, I suppose you will draw the same conclusion as with the
WEQATAL/QATAL data, namely, that the participle occur in two groups with
different semantic meaning.

But why is the distribution of the participle uneven as far as temporal
reference is concerned? This is a very important question, which again
throws light on the faulty semantic reasoning regarding Hebrew verbs in
many studies. The reason is that a different temporal reference tend to
occur in different contextual environments. For example, the 19 participles
with future reference all occur in direct speech, 53 % of those with
present reference occur in direct speech, but only 12 % of those with past
reference do.

Before we either presume that QATALs and WEQATALs *are* marked for tense,
or reject the possibility that one and the same form of finite verbs can
occur both with past, present and future reference, a serious discourse
analysis of the material must be undertaken. Can the waw in the WEQATALs be
explained as a simple conjunction? Can we explain why a conjunction is
needed where the WEQATALs occur? And we must of course not forget the
penultimate stress. Although this stress is not consistently used, it is
done so often that there can be no doubt that either those who wrote the
text or some of those who at some point copied it, wanted to use this
stress as a distinction. But is this distinction just phonetic, or is it
pragmatic, or is it semantic? This question must be addressed.

Summing up my arguments above, I will say that I fully accept your
statistical analysis as fine, but I reject its conclusion, because of the
faulty premise. We cannot presume that groups of verbs are tenses and at
the same time work to find out if they are tenses. But this is what
normally is done. It is also done in Ugaritic where it is presumed that the
same form (YAQTUL) cannot have past reference  and at the same time be
modal. Therefore two different semantic groups have been postulated for one
and the same form with no difference in morphology.

Our new semester has started, and I must reduce my posts on b-hebrew. But I
would like to stress that I have not claimed that my statistics of QATAL
and WEQATAL show that these forms are parts of one and the same semantic
group (conjugation). I have not even claimed that the material show that
QATAL  and WEQATAL are not aspects (which I believe that they are). What I
have claimed is that the statistics shows what they are not; they are not
tenses, and they are not aspects in the English sense of the word.



Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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