[b-hebrew] Tense and aspect

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Tue Aug 9 09:23:42 EDT 2005

> >>But it is clear that X-YIQTOL is not a pure future tense, but is also a
> >>tenseless imperfective, that is that it can be used where Russian would
> >>use past, present or future imperfective aspect.
> >
> Well, we were looking at Hosea 1:9 (2:1 in Hebrew): the first YE'AMER
> must be past, meaning "it was said" or "it used to be said".

Can't we take yeamer literally, "where it will be said to them this, [later]
it will be said to them that?" The negative promises in the previous chapter
are in the future tense, though they refer to the immediate future. "I will
not be yours" in the previous pericope is in the future tense.

> Another example of Rolf's is Judges 9:38, TO'MAR.

I see no problem with it, "Where is now your mouth, you who will say
so-and-so?" In Russian, the phrase is fine, "ну и что ты скажешь сейчас, ты,
кто *как скажет* то-то и то-то?" English analogue is, "Where is now your
mouth, you, who [routinely] say so-and-so?" English uses present for past
reference here. Can't we use future in English, too, "What you would say
now, you, who would routinely say so-and-so?"

> Other examples: YITTEN in 1 Samuel 1:5, YA`ASEH in 1:7. None of these can
be future, even relative
> to a deictic centre as far as I can see.

I wonder how the grammar affects mentality! I have no problem with future
tense in these cases. The past-future combination is commonplace in Russian,
"Каждый раз, подходя к реке, он остановится и задумается о смысле жизни".
"Each time, coming (as he came) to the river, he would stop and think about
the life." And there is deictic shift when the speaker follows his object to
the river (past), then stops there, associates with his object and switches
to the future tense - his object will start thinking only now, when he came
to the river. This is about 1Sam1:5.

About 1Sam1:7, can't we say even in English about the past events, "And thus
he will do year-in and year-out, repeating the same thing over and over
again?" In Russian, these turns are not common, but they occur. In Hebrew,
they are not common, either.

Vadim Cherny

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