[b-hebrew] tenses; frequency

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Aug 9 19:59:24 EDT 2005

On 10/08/2005 00:41, Read, James C wrote:

> It is completely impossible to start out with no ideas. But it is 
> possible to start out
> with the right motivation.
> I think the value of Rolf's research should not be determined or 
> undermined by the influences
> he has had but by the fruit of his labours. His arguments stand up to 
> criticism and are very
> purely liguistically based. He has analysed the usage of the forms and 
> has both seen and shown
> that their usage is not uniform enough to grammaticalise tense into 
> the verb form itself.

James, Rolf has rightly questioned my criticism of his work without 
reading his dissertation. I wonder, have you read his dissertation 
yourself and so given yourself any proper basis to state that "His 
arguments stand up to criticism"?

> He is agreeing with you but coming from another direction.
> You (Peter) and I are very strong proponents of contextual influences 
> in translation and Rolf's
> conclusions lead to the same thing. As he has proven that tense is not 
> grammaticalised in the verb
> forms it is the context, not the verb-form, which dictates the tense 
> to be used in English.
Yes, I do hold that language, including verb forms, can be understood 
only from context. I suppose I hold that there are no distinctions which 
are "semantic" according to Rolf's very strict definition. But I don't 
agree with him on several important issues; for example I hold, and he 
denies, that there is a semantic and grammaticalised distinction 
(probably primarily aspcetual) between WAYYIQTOL and vav + YIQTOL. In 
fact I don't even accept that he has proven that tense is not 
grammaticalised, because I don't think his method is capable in 
principle of proving this - although I would not argue that tense is 

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

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