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

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Mon Aug 8 15:01:17 EDT 2005


> >>>... Does he choose statistically most
> >>>common translation? Or, perhaps, a translation justified by the
context?
> >>>   Or, by the historical perspective? Or, by his exegesis needs? ...
> >>>
> >>Not his or her personal needs of course, but his or her exegesis of the
> >>text, with a view to the context, the historical perspective etc. It is
> >>impossible to translate without doing this kind of exegesis.
> >
> >Why? I cannot imagine exegetical needs affecting, say, Livy or, say,
Beowulf
> >translation. Even Sumerian texts, open to variant readings, are generally
> >translated without recourse to preconceptions.
> >
> Vadim, you clearly don't have a clue about how professional translation
> is done.
>

I didn't - before I realized--with shagrin--that yours and Rolf's views on
translation are not bizarre, but common.

> >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.
>
> Do you know more about Burmese than the professional linguists who state
> that it has no tenses?
>

I have no idea about Burmese, but your other two examples, Arabic and
Chinese, were plain wrong. But I really, really doubt that those Burmese
folks have no idea of time, and thus don't have tenses. Most likely, they
have tense constructs (like Chinese) instead of affixes.

> Of course Hebrew had some obvious adverbial devices for stating clearly
> whether an event was past, present or future if necessary.
>

Come on. They are so rare. Phrases like "yesterday he say" are few, if any.
If Hebrew affixes form aspects, not tenses, then Tanakh--and Hebrew thought
of the time--practically did not employ tenses.

Vadim Cherny




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