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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Aug 8 17:40:38 EDT 2005

On 08/08/2005 21:03, Vadim Cherny wrote:

> ...
>>1) "And he spoke (WAYYIQTOL) to her.: `Because I spoke (YIQTOL) to Naboth
>>the Jezreelite and said (WAYYIQTOL)  to him...`" 1 Kings 21:6
>See, Rolf, there are different speaking conventions. Russians can say,
>"Because I *speak* to Nabot..." about the past event. Deictic center is the
>meeting with Nabot. "Speak" is the present tense, no aspects.
>Or, "Each time, as *I will meet* Nabot, I say to him..." Now, Russian is
>very, very close to Hebrew in its mode of expression. ...

No, Vadim, it is not. In Russian each verb form has both aspect 
(perfective or imperfective) and tense (past, present or future - 
present is imperfective only), so two orthogonal parameters. Hebrew has 
nothing analogous to this set of two orthogonal parameters - there is 
just one distinction, which is of aspect in biblical Hebrew, according 
to most scholars, although of tense in modern Hebrew.

>... Your example is
>exactly similar: it was apparently customary in Hebrew, as now in Russian,
>to use future tense with "as," "because," etc for past reference. ...

Please can you send me an example sentence in Russian, perhaps off list. 
In all my studies of Russian I have never seen a future tense with past 
reference in this sense.

>... When you read English phrase "Every time I meet Nabot, I say to him...", you
>understand this as past reference - yet you don't dispute that "meet" is a
>present tense, or that English has tenses. ...

No, this is not past, but indicates a habit which the speaker expects to 
continue. If the speaker expects not to say the same thing to Nabot 
again (e.g. because he is dead), then the past tense is used.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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