[b-hebrew] Verbs

David Kummerow farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Mon Aug 8 19:00:02 EDT 2005


Gday George.

Sorry that I misunderstood you. But you did say: "the verbal conjugations do 
not speak so much about tense, but rather the reader's distance from the 
action. In other words, the verbs do not work on a temporal plain, but 
rather a spatial plain. Tense must be inferred secondarily from the spatial 
sphere."

So is it that you understand the verbal system as grammaticalising a 
foreground-background distinction and/or grammaticalising information 
structure? But this view would have to be a little more nuanced than simply 
"actions of lesser or background significance are given in YIQTOL" etc etc; 
ie these types of distinctions would only apply in certain "text types", so 
a more fine-grained or constructional approach would be necessary.

Personally, I think the view that the BH verbal system grammaticalises "the 
significance of verbs spatially" needs substantial justificantion in the 
light of the crosslinguistic or typological evidence which would dictate 
otherwise. That is, since other languages do not seem to grammaticalise "the 
significance of actions spatially" but rather TIME is viewed spatially, then 
this calls into question this understanding of BH. Now it could be that BH 
is unique - so unique that it is unlike any other language we know of in 
this regard - but that needs substantial justification I think, esp. with a 
dead language where we do not have speakers.

In  any case, see the methodology advanced in:

Miller, Cynthia L. "Methodological Issues in Reconstructing Language Systems 
from Epigraphic Fragments." Pages 281-305 in _The Future of Biblical 
Archaeology: Reassessing Methodologies and Assumptions_. Edited by James K. 
Hoffmeier and Alan Millard. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004.

Regards,
David Kummerow.

>Hi David!
>
>I think I understand what you're getting at. The problem is, Hebrew does 
>not view time spatially, but rather the significance of actions spatially. 
>In other words, it's not that the future might be 'far away' and the 
>present might be 'close'. On the contrary, I see Hebrew perceiving the 
>'distance' of actions from the speaker in terms of their dramatic 
>significance, not their timing. Thus, actions of greater significance are 
>given in the QATAL, while actions of lesser or background significance are 
>given in YIQTOL, etc. Of course, timing may come into the consideration of 
>dramatic significance, but so might other factors, such as who the subject 
>of the verb is, or the type of action being described.
>
>Best regards,
>
>GEORGE ATHAS
>Lecturer in Biblical Languages
>Southern Cross College
>Sydney, Australia
>
>
>
>   ----- Original Message -----
>   From: David Kummerow
>   To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
>   Sent: 6 August 2005 4:44 pm
>   Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Verbs
>
>
>
>   Hi George,
>
>   I've done a little thinking the last few days concerning your proposal
>   of a "spatial" understanding of the BH verbal system. At least in theory
>   it must be admitted that it is possible, since it is indeed possible for
>   a language to not make tense-aspect distinctions (see ?sten Dahl,
>   "Languages without Tense and Aspect," in _ Aktionsart and
>   Aspectotemporality in Non-European Languages: Proceedings from the
>   Workshop on Aspect and Aktionsart Held at the University of Zurich, June
>   23-25, 2000_ [ed. Karen H. Ebert and Fernando Z??iga; Z?rich:
>   Universit?t Z?rich, 2001], 159-173
>   http://www.ling.su.se/staff/oesten/recycled/Languageswithoutta.pdf).
>
>   The research that has been done on this that I can find suggests that
>   languages can make a spatial distinction in their verbal system (see,
>   eg, Ning Yu, "Spatial Conceptualization of Time in Chinese," in
>   _Cultural, Psychological and Typological Issues in Cognitive
>   Linguistics: Slected Papers of the Bi-annual ICLA Meeting in
>   Albuquerque, July 1995_ [ed. Masako K. Hiraga, Chris Sinha, and Sherman
>   Wilcox; ASTHLS 152; Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1999],
>   69-84; George Lakoff, "The Invariance Hypothesis: Is Abstract Reason
>   Based on Image Schemas?" Cognitive Linguistics 1 (1990), 39-74; idem,
>   "The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor," in _Metaphor and Thought_ [2nd
>   ed.; ed. Andrew Ortony; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993],
>   202-251). But the research also seems to suggest that languages only do
>   this - maybe CAN only do this - because they firstly have a
>   grammaticalised tense system. In this way "future" can be thought of
>   "spatially" as something you can "look forward to"; the "past" as
>   something "behind"; and the "present" is at the "same location".
>   (Interestingly, for some languages the future is behind and the past is
>   in front!)
>
>   So what this would seem to say for BH is that if the verbal system can
>   be conceptualised "spatially" it can only do so because it firstly marks
>   tense.
>
>   Regards,
>
>   David Kummerow
>   Sydney, Australia.
>
>
>   > Harold (and others),
>   > While it might appear so, I think there is more in Rolf's theory than
>   > merely this. I have been working (among other things) at a theory of
>   > Hebrew verbal aspect over the last few years, and hope to have a 
>grammar
>   > ready in the next couple of years.
>   >
>   > Rolf's point that Biblical Hebrew has no tense is one with which I
>   > strongly agree. The evidence strongly points in this direction. But 
>this
>   > statement needs to be nuanced. Perhaps another way to put it is that 
>the
>   > verbal conjugations do not speak so much about tense, but rather the
>   > reader's distance from the action. In other words, the verbs do not 
>work
>   > on a temporal plain, but rather a spatial plain. Tense must be 
>inferred
>   > secondarily from the spatial sphere. The way I describe it to my
>   > students is a bit like watching a play in a theatre. English verbs,
>   > which have tense, are like watching the play from your seat in the
>   > audience: you don't move, the action moves before you. Biblical Hebrew
>   > verbs, though, invite you to come onto the stage and watch the play 
>from
>   > various vantage points.
>   >
>   > Thus, WAYYIQTOL verbs present an action which is viewed as being
>   > initially 'far' from the viewer/reader, but which invites the
>   > viewer/reader to come and look at it. In this way, narrative momentum 
>is
>   > produced, and the viewer/reader moves with the action. A QATAL verb,
>   > though, halts such narrative momentum and presents an action up close.
>   > This is not because the action of the QATAL is close in time, but
>   > because the author wants the viewer/reader to see the action as
>   > critically important. A YIQTOL verb presents an action which is quite
>   > distant from the viewer/reader, such that the action is almost seen as
>   > filling out the background or the 'set'. A WEQATAL verb is merely an
>   > 'add on' verb form and sustains the focus wherever the viewer/reader 
>is.
>   > Thus, the verb forms are like stage directions, telling the
>   > viewer/reader 'where' the actions are occuring on the literary 
>'stage',
>   > rather than 'when' the actions are occuring in time.
>   >
>   > The choice of verb forms has primarily to do with dramatic effect. 
>After
>   > all, let's face it, Biblical Hebrew is great at telling a story or a
>   > poem. Timing is of secondary importance. For example, many times a
>   > YIQTOL is translated as a future tense, not because the future tense 
>is
>   > intrinsic to it, but because the author wants the viewer/reader to see
>   > the future as 'far' from the current standpoint. On other occasions, a
>   > YIQTOL is translated as a continuous past tense because, again, the
>   > action is seen to be distant from the current standpoint. In any case,
>   > the author is trying to convey that the action conveyed by the YIQTOL,
>   > whether it be past, present, future, or a combination of these, should
>   > be seen as filling in the background or the 'set'. Thus, it's not that
>   > Hebrew verbs have no temporal connotations, but they are not intrinsic
>   > to the verb form.
>   >
>   > Having said that, some work needs to be done on the various stages of
>   > the development of Biblical Hebrew. At some stage, tense came into the
>   > Hebrew language. A diachronic analysis needs to be done to see how and
>   > when the language developed and gained a tense system.
>   >
>   >
>   > Best regards,
>   >
>   > GEORGE ATHAS
>   > Lecturer in Biblical Languages
>   > Southern Cross College
>   > Sydney, Australia
>   >
>
>
>   _______________________________________________
>   b-hebrew mailing list
>   b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
>   http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
>
>------------------------------
>
>Message: 24
>Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2005 11:52:56 +0200
>From: S?ren Holst <sh at teol.ku.dk>
>Subject: [b-hebrew] documentary hypothesis - D in Exodus?
>To: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
>Message-ID:
>	<83AA9A8C573B3F49909FFE6827C3F5B601BA17A9 at ibtmail4.ibt.ku.dk.ad>
>Content-Type: text/plain;	charset="iso-8859-1"
>
>Thanks a lot for all the suggestions on the documentary hypothesis (not 
>least to Yitzhak for his link to the archives -- his memory is obviously 
>better than mine).
>
>A more specific question: None of the tables I've seen yet allow any D 
>material in Exodus (or anywhere in the first four books of the Pentateuch 
>for that matter), but W. Johnstone in his little book on Exodus (JSOT Press 
>1990) takes this for granted (e.g. in Ex 3,13 and following), and J van 
>Seters discusses it in "Those Elusive Deuteronomists", which I haven't seen 
>yet -- I'm waiting for the Royal library to let go of their copy :-)
>
>any comments?
>
>kol tuv
>Soren
>
> > -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
> > Fra:	Yitzhak Sapir [SMTP:yitzhaksapir at gmail.com]
> > Sendt:	4. august 2005 18:56
> > Til:	S?ren Holst
> > Cc:	b-hebrew
> > Emne:	Re: [b-hebrew] documentary hypothesis, overview?
> >
> > The following is a table listing Dr. Richard Elliot Friedman's 
>assignments:
> > http://home1.gte.net/deleyd/religion/jepdr.htm
> >
> > And this has been discussed before, by all involved (though some of the 
>links
> > don't work and some you have to enter a name and password of "any" and 
>"any"
> > respectively to get through)
> >
> > 
>http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-hebrew/2003-January/thread.html#14615
> >
> > Yitzhak Sapir
>
>
>------------------------------
>
>Message: 25
>Date: Mon, 08 Aug 2005 06:07:51 -0400
>From: "B. M. Rocine" <brocine at twcny.rr.com>
>Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Tenses and aspects; was: footnotes
>To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
>Message-ID: <42F72EF7.8060103 at twcny.rr.com>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
>
>Hi Rolf,
>
>A minor detail:
>
>Rolf Furuli wrote:
>   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).
> >
>
>The second yiqtol in 3 is not clause-initial; IOW it is an X-yiqtol.
>The X is bimqom 'asher ye'amer lahem lo' `amiy 'atem.
>
>Shalom,
>Bryan
>
>--
>B. M. Rocine
>Living Word Chruch
>6101 Court St. Rd.
>Syracuse, NY 13026
>(W): 315.437.6744
>
>
>------------------------------
>
>Message: 26
>Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2005 20:09:14 +1000
>From: "George Athas" <gathas at hotkey.net.au>
>Subject: [b-hebrew] EDIT REPLIES -- FROM MODERATORS
>To: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
>Message-ID: <018b01c59c01$3bcabd50$dd8532d2 at Presario>
>Content-Type: text/plain;	charset="iso-8859-1"
>
>Hi everyone!
>
>It's good to see so much discussion on the forum in the last few weeks. I'd 
>just like to remind people that when you reply to a post, please be sure to 
>include only the latest post to which you are replying, or the relevant 
>snippets of multiple posts. Failure to edit previous posts in replies can 
>result in quite hefty sized emails which might be rejected by the computer 
>system we use at B-Hebrew and/or problems for individual members with small 
>'email boxes'.
>
>With that in mind, keep up the good work.
>
>Best Regards,
>
>GEORGE ATHAS
>Fellow Chairman, B-Hebrew Forum
>
>PS - Always remember to be diplomatic, also.
>
>------------------------------
>
>Message: 27
>Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2005 11:10:50 +0100
>From: "Rolf Furuli" <furuli at online.no>
>Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Tenses and aspects; was: footnotes
>To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
>Message-ID: <002601c59c01$747c2300$0e44fea9 at ttttt>
>Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed; charset="iso-8859-1";
>	reply-type=original
>
>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
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > b-hebrew mailing list
> > b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> > http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
> >
> >
>
>
>
>------------------------------
>
>Message: 28
>Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2005 11:35:20 +0100
>From: "Rolf Furuli" <furuli at online.no>
>Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Tenses and aspects; was: footnotes
>To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
>Message-ID: <001601c59c04$e04a86f0$0e44fea9 at ttttt>
>Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed; charset="iso-8859-1";
>	reply-type=original
>
>Dear Bryan,
>
>Now I realize that we use the concept clause-initial (I have used
>sentence-initial with the same meaning) very differently. For me a
>clause-initial verb is one that begins a clause with no element preceding. 
>I
>use the term "clause" in the normal sense: "a syntagm that contains subject
>and verbal ( implicit or explicit verbal)". Basically I find that this
>definition accords with Masoretic pointing. Above )TM, the word before the
>YIQTOL we are discussing, we find a zaqef qaton, which is a strong accent.
>This marks the end of the previous clause, as I see it.
>
>In 3) I find four clauses:
>
>a) "In the place where it was said (YIQTOL) to them"  verbal clause
>b) "`You are not my  people,`"  nominal clause
>c) "it will be said (YIQTOL) to them" verbal clause
>d) "`The sons of the living God`"  nominal clause with implicit "you are"
>
>On the basis of the analysis above, I find that the YIQTOL in 3) is clause
>initial.
>
>
>Best regards
>
>Rolf Furuli
>University of Oslo
>
>
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "B. M. Rocine" <brocine at twcny.rr.com>
>To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
>Sent: Monday, August 08, 2005 11:07 AM
>Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Tenses and aspects; was: footnotes
>
>
> > Hi Rolf,
> >
> > A minor detail:
> >
> > Rolf Furuli wrote:
> >  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).
> >>
> >
> > The second yiqtol in 3 is not clause-initial; IOW it is an X-yiqtol.
> > The X is bimqom 'asher ye'amer lahem lo' `amiy 'atem.
> >
> > Shalom,
> > Bryan
> >
> > --
> > B. M. Rocine
> > Living Word Chruch
> > 6101 Court St. Rd.
> > Syracuse, NY 13026
> > (W): 315.437.6744
> > _______________________________________________
> > b-hebrew mailing list
> > b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> > http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
> >
> >
>
>
>
>------------------------------
>
>_______________________________________________
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
>http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
>
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