[b-hebrew] Prophetic Perfect? Psalm 107

UUC unikom at paco.net
Mon May 24 10:19:49 EDT 2004

Dear Rolf,

Can you please satisfy my curiosity? I was under impression that our
knowledge of the Phoenician is basically speculative, based just on several
hundred entries, certainly not something to base a theory on. Was there any
advance I'm not aware of?

Best regards,


> Since we disagree regarding fundamental linguistic principles and
> draw completely different conclusions from the same data (e.g.
> Phoenician infinitive absolutes), I see no reason to continue this
> discussion. But of course, I respect your scholarship.
> Best regards
> Rolf
> Rolf Furuli
> University of Oslo
> >On 23/05/2004 10:51, furuli at online.no wrote:
> >
> >>...
> >>
> >>In many cases the distinction between semantic meaning and
> >>conversational  pragmatic implicature is difficult to establish.
> >>But Peter draws this too far, because there are many areas of
> >>language where the difference is clear-cut, as in connection with
> >>verbs. Of course, falsifying examples must have a secure foundation
> >>(textually, contextually etc), and even exceptions can be allowed
> >>if they can be linguistically explained. But the main proposition
> >>stands: A verb conjugation which semantically represents past tense
> >>cannot have future reference.
> >
> >
> >So, Rolf, are you making the claim that if a language has a true
> >past tense that can NEVER be used with a future reference? Would
> >you, I wonder, accept that English has a true past tense (or perhaps
> >more than one, but let's stick to the simple past for now)? What
> >would you do if I found secure counter-examples? Would you abandon
> >or modify your "main proposition"? Or would you decide that English
> >has no more of a past tense than Hebrew does? By this kind of
> >argument we could probably demonstrate quite quickly that there are
> >no past tenses in any language, except perhaps in certain dead
> >languages in which there is insufficient data to falsify the
> >hypothesis.
> >
> >Of course you have left yourself a get-out clause that "exceptions
> >can be allowed if they can be linguistically explained". So then,
> >would you like me to offer linguistic explanations for your non-past
> >WAYYIQTOLs? We have been through this before, and I found none which
> >don't have convincing to me linguistic (or textual) explanations.
> >Many can be explained as future perfects, perhaps even "prophetic
> >perfects". And in rather a lot of the cases we looked at before the
> >temporal reference of the events is highly uncertain.
> >
> >>The fact that the infinitive absolute is used for narrative
> >>accounts in Phoenician, and to some degree in the Amarna letters,
> >>has no direct bearing on the falsification principle. But this fact
> >>illuminates the case with the WAYYIQTOLs from another angle.  If
> >>infinitive absolutes, which nobody would say semantically represent
> >>past tense, are used as the narrative verb form, then the
> >>WAYYIQTOLs neither need to represent semantically past tense, just
> >>because they in great numbers are used in narrative accounts. Why
> >>some say they cannot understand this simple fact is difficult for
> >>me to understand.
> >>
> >While I would not say "semantically", I would suggest that a
> >Phoenician verb form used regularly in past contexts, whatever its
> >Hebrew cognates, is a past tense.
> >
> >As for swans, suppose that I am describing a beautiful riverside
> >scene. Swans were gliding past, and the flowers on the bank matched
> >the swans' feathers. What colour were the flowers? Of course, they
> >were white, because in this scenario the swans, unless otherwise
> >specified as black, are assumed to be white (except perhaps by
> >readers in Western Australia, where swans are prototypically black).
> >And it is not just pragmatics which tells us that the flowers were
> >white, it is the semantics of the whole text.
> >
> >--
> >Peter Kirk
> >peter at qaya.org (personal)
> >peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> >http://www.qaya.org/
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