[b-hebrew] tenses; frequency

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Tue Aug 9 15:09:58 EDT 2005

Possibly, a significant argument in favor of tenses is that the exceptions are asymmetrical. There are few cases of past tense employed for the future reference, while much more - of the future tense employed for the past reference. I don't have the statistics, but, Rolf, correct me if necessary.

If there were no tenses, but only aspects, we would expect about the same number of exceptions on each side: qatal/wayiqtol for the future, and weqatal/yiqtol for the past.

If the exceptions are indeed asymmetrical in the way I described, then it is due to the emphatic shift of the reference point back in the time - people re-live past, not future events. Forward shift of the reference point (yiqtol for the past) would mostly occur in visions, and so be very rare.

Vadim Cherny

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