[b-hebrew] The perspective of this native speaker of Modern Hebrew of Biblical Hebrew tenses

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Sat Nov 27 13:27:13 EST 2004

On Saturday 27 November 2004 10:46, Rolf Furuli wrote:

Hi Rolf,
> I refer to the book of Broman Olsen (Broman Olsen, M. (1997) A Semantic
> and Pragmatic Model of Lexical and Grammatical Aspect).  Before deciding
> this issue, this book should be read.  The strength of the system of
> Broman Olsen is that she can explain the whole English verbal system
> with its tenses and aspects as a function of the Deictic center, Event
> time, and Reference time.  She needs not seek recourse in the so-called
> "Relative tenses," and there are no exceptions.  Her system indicates
> that tense and aspect are exclusively connected with verb *form* and are
> not pragmatic functions of the context.  While Broman Olsen's view that
> perfect is the form that expresses the perfective aspect is "objective"
> and clear-cut, your pragmatic application of the perfective aspect leads
> into a quagmire of subjective interpretations and disputes.  As I wrote
> to Bryan, you cannot compare Russian "aspect" with English aspect.
> Backe (Backe, C. (1985). Verbal Aspect: A General Theory and its
> Application to Present Day English) who discusses Russian and English,
> even doubts that English has aspects on the basis of Russian definitions.

In an earlier post you mentioned Hopper's well-known study, and I'd like to 
address that in relation to the works you have mentioned above.  I know that 
Hopper found aspect to be a semantic/pragmatic feature of language rather 
than a syntactic one, an idea that I tend to agree with.  But I also know 
that not all linguistic researchers maintain a separation between syntax and 
semantics, so I'd be interested to know where Olsen in particular stands on 
that question, as well as Backe.  As my own research has discovered, the 
question has a definite bearing on how we approach the Hebrew verbal system.

Dave Washburn
"No good.  Hit on head."   -Gronk

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