[b-hebrew] Psa 107:19-21 (was WAYYIQTOL)

Sameer Yadav sameer_yadav2 at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 24 20:19:47 EST 2004


I appreciate your concern that we do not take the
existence of a few counterexamples to overthrow a
theory which otherwise explains the data very well.  I
do not dispute this.  Perhaps you should have looked
at my argument a bit more closely after all, because I
wasn’t advocating a “100% or nothing” account of the

The examples I listed were not exhaustive and were not
intended by themselves to demonstrate that Hatav’s
theory is wrong.  I was using them to make the point
that the number of counterexamples or unexplained
cases can be made greater or smaller depending upon
the theoretical account of modal semantics being
employed to identify ‘modal’ and ‘non-modal’ uses. I
just think that identifying problems with Hatav’s
characterization on this level increases the number of
counterexamples sufficiently to question whether it
really does account for 99% of the data. 

Issues having to do with whether or not a
possible-worlds semantics (or any model-theoretic
semantics) is the best way of spelling out a general
semantics of modality directly impact whether we
identify certain uses in BH as modal or not and why. 
There are also issues surrounding how modals function
in the semantics/pragmatics interface, which determine
how much we should attribute modality strictly to
verbal inflection at all in natural language.  

So although I appreciate your warning about being
cautious to reject explanations which appear to cover
much of the data, I would also caution you from
accepting an entire theory of modal semantics in
natural language simply because it can be formed in a
neat distribution around the usage of the conjugations
in BH.  I think that the relationship has to be
reciprocal, with good reasons to accept the general
semantic account independently of the way those
semantics are uniquely exhibited in one particular


--- Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya.org> wrote:
> On 24/03/2004 07:01, Sameer Yadav wrote:
> >...
> >
> >If the modal uses of qtl count as strong enough
> >evidence to reject the modal version of the
> >waw-conversive theory, then all the modal uses of
> wqtl
> >where the waw is being used as a simple
> coordinating
> >conjunction count as straightforward modal uses of
> >qtl, which completely undermines both Hatav and
> Zuber. ...
> >  
> >
> I haven't looked into your argument in detail. But
> it seems to me that 
> you are presenting a rather small number of examples
> as evidence to 
> reject and "completely undermine" certain theories.
> At this point I 
> reject your methodology, for the same reason that I
> reject Rolf 
> Furuli's. I would expect that in natural language
> (and especially in 
> ancient texts which may be corrupt) there will
> always be a small number 
> of cases which do not fit neatly into any theory.
> Sometimes a 
> refinement, rather than rejection, of the theory may
> be necessary; but 
> even so, with an ancient language with no mother
> tongue speakers 
> available, we must expect that there will be a small
> number of 
> occurrences which we can never explain properly.
> If you can find a better theory which accounts for
> 100% of the data, or 
> even 99.5%, please let us know, but until then be
> careful about 
> rejecting theories which account for 99% of it.
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/

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