[b-hebrew] Tense and aspect

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Aug 9 13:01:35 EDT 2005

On 09/08/2005 14:23, Vadim Cherny wrote:

>>>>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.
What does anyone else think of this exegesis?

>>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?"
We can use "would" in English, but that is not a future tense. But I 
agree that Hebrew YIQTOL can have a meaning rather similar to English 
"would", as well as "will". I was unaware of this habitual use of the 
Russian future, and so is Terence Wade's "A Comprehensive Russian 
Grammar" (Blackwell 2002), although it does mention a rather similar 
concessive construction e.g. Какую газету ни откроешь - всюду разговор о 
женщине (from Russia Today) "Whichever paper you open (future), the talk 
is only of women". Perhaps it is something highly colloquial. Well, if 
this usage is included, the Russian (perfective! as usually analysed) 
future is more like YIQTOL than I realised, in that it can be used both 
for real future and for habitual past and present. But that doesn't mean 
that YIQTOL is a real future tense, which can refer only to future 
events, although it suggests that the Russian future is not as simple as 
it appears.

> ...
>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.
Not with "will", at least this would not be standard English when the 
action is not actually future, but "would" is normal.

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

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