[b-hebrew] Use and Misuse of Waw in Verb Tenses

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sun Sep 19 03:08:49 EDT 2004

Dear Peter,

Your post reveals that we speak two different languages, so I see no 
purpose in continuing this discussion with you.

Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

Peter Kirk wrote:

> On 18/09/2004 06:45, Rolf Furuli wrote:
>> ...
>> In Hebrew we have the verb $YR ("to sing"), which signals an action 
>> which is durative and dynamic (dynamic=change).  Regardless of 
>> whether this root is used as an infinitive, a participle, a 
>> WAYYIQTOL, or as a YIQTOL these two properties are always the same. 
>> We can say that this root is marked for durativity and dynamicity, 
>> and these properties can never be taken away from this root.  This is 
>> semantic (uncancellable) meaning, and the existence of this root (and 
>> thousands of other roots with similar characteristics) *proves* (is 
>> not only evidence of) that uncancellable semantic meaning can be 
>> pinpointed in a dead language.
> A large number of examples of something cannot *prove* that there are 
> zero counter-examples. It can of course provide very strong evidence 
> for the proposition. But you can sample many millions of people and 
> ask if they have walked on the moon; probably you will find that none 
> have, but your conclusion from that that no humans have walked on the 
> moon would be incorrect. Similarly, any number of examples cannot 
> prove that there are zero examples of the durative and dynamic nature 
> of $YR is uncancellable, and so on your terms strictly semantic.
>> The default interpretation of the root ML) is "to be full," which 
>> signals stativity.  However, in clauses where this verb takes an 
>> object or there is an adverbial, the meaning can be "to fill.".  This 
>> shows that stativity applied to ML)  is not semantic meaning, but 
>> only conversational pragmatic implicature (it can change).  In fact, 
>> any Hebrew verb whose default interpretation is stativity can have a 
>> fientive interpretation as well in other contexts.  Thus, stativity 
>> in Hebrew is not a semantic property.
> I see your point here, and accept that stativity is not semantic at 
> least on your definition.
>> The important question in connection with this discussion is whether 
>> it is possible to find semantic meaning in the WAYYIQTOL and the 
>> YIQTOL, and in that case, whether this semantic meaning is similar or 
>> different.  However, that semantic meaning can be pinpointed in a 
>> dead language is beyond question.
> I do not accept this last sentence. I do not see any methodolgy by 
> which uncancellability can be proved in a dead language, especially 
> where there is a limited corpus using a very limited subset of the 
> probable registers of the language.

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