[b-hebrew] Tenses and aspects; was: footnotes

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Mon Aug 8 06:10:50 EDT 2005

Dear Vadim,

When I read my own post, I saw the need to specify one of my comments.  I 
spoke about "the reason for the past reference" of the YIQTOLs of 1) and 2). 
What I meant to say was that the reason for the past reference is the 
context, but the reason why YIQTOLs are used rather than WAYYIQTOLs (which 
are the mostly used forms with past reference) is the particles before the 
YIQTOLs. If these were removed, the YIQTOLs would probably have becom 
WAYYIQTOLs.  And the reason for this claim is that WAW (both as WE-  and 
WAY- plays an important syntactic role.

Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Rolf Furuli" <furuli at online.no>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, August 08, 2005 10:18 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Tenses and aspects; was: footnotes

> Dear Vadim,
> I shall not comment your words about translation, but would like to say a
> few words about tense and aspect.
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Vadim Cherny" <VadimCherny at mail.ru>
> To: "Peter Kirk" <peterkirk at qaya.org>; <furuli at online.no>
> Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Monday, August 08, 2005 7:58 AM
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Tenses and aspects; was: footnotes
> snip
>> Exegetical needs sometimes give rise to grammatical superstitions like 
>> the
>> ludicrous idea that Hebrew lacked tenses. See how many advocates of that
>> bizarre assumption are around, even though there is not a single language
>> around--nor could there be for obvious semantical reasons--that lack
>> tenses.
>> Chinese, for example, has tenses in adverbial format, but since there is
>> no
>> comparable constructs in Hebrew, Rolf et al want us to believe that
>> Hebrews
>> did not distinguish between past and future. Thus, exegetical needs
>> produce
>> not only the garbled grammar, but garbled philosophy.
> It seems that we use the word "tense" in different ways. I use Comrie`s
> definition
> of tense: "tense is the grammaticalization of location in time". This 
> means
> that tense is an intrinsic part of the verb form and is independent of the
> context. A term covering a broader area is "temporal reference". When I 
> say
> that a verb has past reference, I do not say whether this is due to an
> intrinsic property of the verb itself or whether it is constured on the
> basis of the context. But when I say that a verb has past tense, I say 
> that
> this is an intrinsic (grammaticalized) part of the verb itself.
> Your example with Chinese suggests that when you use "tense," you use he
> word the way I use "temporal reference".  Chinese does not have tenses, 
> but
> the temporal references of the clauses can be construed on the basis of
> particular factors.  The same is true with Burmese. (See B. Comrie (1985)
> "Tense" p. 50).
> I have never said that
> the writers of classical Hebrew did not care about the temporal reference 
> of
> events and states.  To the contrary, I have stressed that time played an
> important role for them. My point. however, is and has been that the 
> context
> (including adverbials) was used to signal the temporal references.
>> Regarding the tenses and aspects, I posted a question before, and here
>> repeat the challenge: let anyone offer a single example (ok, besides
>> perhaps
>> a few grammatical errors) of a verb which is meaningless in its tense and
>> is
>> only meaningful if it has aspect. Something like "yesterday he will say."
>> I
>> contend there are no such entries in Tanakh, and all the thousand entries
>> that Rolf collected for aspects that are clearly not tenses, are clear
>> only
>> in the light of his preconceptions.
> I think you misunderstand the nature of aspect and temporal reference; the
> situation is not "either this or that" but "both this and that". I would 
> say
> that the context tells the readers whether an event occurs before the
> deictic center (past reference) or after it (future reference), and the
> conjugations (the aspects YIQTOL, QATAL ...) make visible a part of and 
> the
> quality of the verbal action
> that  the context has fixed as past or future. So your challenge does not
> work, becuse its premise is that there is something called tense in 
> Hebrew,
> and tense and aspect are mutually exclusive properties.
> However, the role of the context as fixing the temporal reference is seen 
> in
> the examples below, all the verbs being verbs of speech.
> The reason for the past reference of the YIQTOL in 1) and the YIQTOL  in 
> 2)
> is that a conjunction and a relative particle precede them respectively.
> The past reference is clear on the basis of the context. There can be no
> doubt that the first YIQTOL of 3) has past reference, and the second has
> future reference even though the conjugation is the same. This is fixed by
> the context. The first YIQTOL is preceded by a relative particle, and the
> second is sentence initial. The second YIQTOL is an example of a sentence
> initial YIQTOL that is not modal. I have not tried to make the aspects
> visible for the English reader, only the temporal references of the verbs.
> 1) "And he spoke (WAYYIQTOL) to her.: `Because I spoke (YIQTOL) to Naboth
> the Jezreelite and said (WAYYIQTOL)  to him...`" 1 Kings 21:6
> 2) "And Zebul said (WAYYIQTOL) to him:`Where is your big talk now, you who
> said (YIQTOL)..." Judg 9:38
> 3) "In the place where it was said (YIQTOL) to them, `You are not my
> people,` it will be said (YIQTOL) to them, `The sons of the living God`"
> Hosea 1:9 (10).
>> Vadim Cherny
> Best regards
> Rolf Furuli
> University of Oslo
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