[b-hebrew] Tense and aspect

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Tue Aug 9 03:30:33 EDT 2005

>From Rolf's examples, it is clear that Hebrew, like Russian, allows deictic shift in emphatic phrases. That is, a speaker who is mentally transposed into the past events, changes his deictic center from the present to that past. He can, therefore, employ future and present tenses describing the past perfect events.

Theoretically, a person could be similarly transposed in the future events, and employ past tense when emphatically relating about the future from his futuristic deictic center. That, however, is properly a description not of the future events, but of the past vision of them. Thus, past tense is employed to refer to the past perfect, a vision.

Past tense could be used to describe relative order of events in the future in rare special cases, "Even if he *were* killed, he will accomplish his mission." In such cases, past tense is employed alongside the future tense.

Use of grammatical tenses in these examples is consistent with use of tenses in regular speech: past tense describes the events left of the deictic center, future tense - right of that center. The deictic center normally corresponds to the present, but is shifted sometimes in emphatic speech when speaker feels immersed into the events.

Thus, Hebrew verb affixes are consistent with tenses.

Vadim Cherny

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