[b-hebrew] Vav consecutive Gen 1:3

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Wed May 26 14:50:26 EDT 2004

On 26/05/2004 11:35, furuli at online.no wrote:

> Dear Geroge,
> By "preterite," do you mean "grqmmaticalized past tense," i.e. that 
> the WAYYIQTOL is uncancellable past tense in any context, ...

Do such tenses exist in any language? Or is this merely a theoretical 

> ... just as English "went" and "walked"? ...

These are not uncancellably past. In "If I walked down the road now, I 
would meet my neighbours in their garden", "walked" is not past, because 
its past meaning is cancelled by the conditional construction. The same 
is true in "When my friend comes tomorrow, he will complain that he 
walked a long way, but I did tell him I would pick up him up at the 
station", because the past meaning is cancelled by its subordination to 
a future verb. And most languages are more flexible than English, not 
less, in their use of verb tenses.

> ... If so, is it possible to differentiate between "past tense" and 
> "past reference," or are all verbs with past reference preterites? ...

I would suggest that all verb forms which indicate past time when used 
in unmarked contexts are past tenses or preterites. But most if not all 
of these verb forms can also be used with non-past reference in marked 
constructions, for example as relative past within a future. The details 
vary from language to language.

The exceptional cases of non-past WAYYIQTOL etc which you have listed 
are necessarily in marked constructions, because if there were not some 
kind of marking you would have no way of identifying them as non-past.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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