[b-hebrew] Verbs

George Athas gathas at hotkey.net.au
Mon Aug 1 21:09:44 EDT 2005

Rolf Said: 
Bryan`s model can be true, and your model can be true, but hardly both
models. They are both based on internal evidence and logic, but on the basis
of which data can we test them?  You speak of distance and a spatial
perspective, which in some languages are characteristics of verbs (see B. 
Comrie (1985). "Tense," chapter 4). But do we have texts in the Tanakh, on the
basis of which we can establish that distance is a characteristic of
particular conjugations?


Good question, Rolf. I have essentially tried to see where the failure of tense models lies, and it is precisely in trying to see the temporality of actions being connected to morphology. It simply doesn't work. I have, therefore, tried to look at the verbs on a spatial plane, rather than a temporal plane. This has yielded suprisingly good results which seems to accord well with morhpology also. Biblical Hebrew is geared towards the spatial plane, seeing things (actions, nouns, etc) as being 'located' in various places, rather than occuring at various times. The prepositions of Hebrew are almost all spatial in meaning, and temporal meanings are only secondarily derived. This hints at the Hebrew mindset.

You can try the theory out with just about any 'early' Hebrew text. I am still to work properly with Qohelet and other texts which may present later developments of Hebrew, so I haven't really tested it out there. Otherwise, try it in the Pentateuch, Former and Later Prophets, and Psalms.

Best regards,

Lecturer in Biblical Languages
Southern Cross College
Sydney, Australia

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