[b-hebrew] Genesis 15:6

Peter Kirk peter.r.kirk at ntlworld.com
Fri Jul 25 11:20:36 EDT 2003


On 25/07/2003 08:05, Stoney Breyer wrote:

>Stoney Breyer
>Writer
>Touchwood, Inc.
>314 421-9878
> 
>In English, how about "Now he had believed his friends would always help
>
>him out, but when he really needed them they didn't want to know." To me
>
>this implies that he no longer believed. 
>
>[SB:] Well, yes, but that implication is in the second clause, and
>particularly the "but", not in the tense of the first clause.  Compare
>"Now he had believed his friends would always help 
>him out, and in fact when he really needed them they all pitched in." 
>
>
>  
>
Sounds like an oxymoron to me. Seriously - unless followed by something 
like "Even so, their grudging expressions made him realise that he 
couldn't count on them for the next time."

I think the difference may be whether we are thinking of "believe" as an 
inceptive or a stative verb. And I wonder if it may be a subtle British 
versus American difference. In my British English, "believe" is usually 
stative and we would say "start to believe" or "come to believe" for the 
inceptive sense, although especially in a religious context just 
"believe" can be used inceptively as a shorthand. And the past perfect 
of a stative verb implies that the state is ended, although the past 
perfect of an inceptive verb does not. Another verb with a similar 
ambiguity is "understand"; "he had understood" may imply that he no 
longer understood, but not necessarily.

But this is a question of English, not Hebrew.

-- 
Peter Kirk
peter.r.kirk at ntlworld.com
http://web.onetel.net.uk/~peterkirk/





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