[b-hebrew] VERBS. Was " masorete pointing v's LLXtransliterations"
furuli at online.no
Tue Jul 26 18:17:26 EDT 2005
You ask good questions. See my comments below.
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From: <Bearpecs at aol.com>
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Sent: Tuesday, July 26, 2005 9:54 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] VERBS. Was " masorete pointing v's
> In a message dated 7/26/2005 4:43:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
> furuli at online.no writes:
> Again the parameters "event time," "reference time,"
> and "the deictic center" can be used. By studying where reference time
> intersects event time in Hebrew verbs it can be argued that Hebrew verbs
> represent aspect, though of a different nature than English aspect.
> 1. It might be helpful for the non-linguists if you gave a brief
> of these terms, especially "deictic center".
When we report an event, we see this event from a vantage point, and this
vantage point is the deictic center. Often this vantage point is the present
moment, but it can be both in the future and in the past. The vantage point
is "tomorrow" in the clause "when I come to-morrow, Liza will already have
arrived". The vantage point is Peter`s arrival in the past in the clause
"when Peter arrived, his father was already dead".
Tense is seen in relation to the deictic center: An event that occur before
the deictic center represent past tense, an event occurring after represent
future tense, and an event that occur contemporaneously with the deictic
has present reference (I use "reference" here because present can refer to
present and future, and therefore is no tense).
> 2. With all due respect, and without commenting on your conclusions or
> logic of your reasoning, you cannot reasonably expect people to simply
> your conclusions when I have not seen in your remarks clarity on the
> of your argument:
You are absolutely right.
> a. Where DOES reference time intersect event time?
When we use tense, we look at the time of an event in relation to our
vantage point, the deictic center. But time can be described without such a
vantage point as well. It is a little difficult to grasp this for a native
of English, because to chose a tense is mandatory in English. But let me use
an unfinished sentence where the tense is not yet chosen as an axample:
"Running for one hour, Rita...." The temporal reference of the participle is
decided by another verb ( here the verb following Rita). Before the tense of
this verb is chosen, we have a description of a time which is not anchored
to a deictic center: Rita was, is, or will be running for an hour. This
period of one hour, not yet connected with a deic center is the event time
of the event. So the event time is the time from the beginning to the end of
Tense and event time represent real physical time, but reference time
represents conceptual time. So it may be even harder to grasp. But let me
try to illustrate. When we report an event, we tend not to make the whole
event visible for our audience, but only a part of it. For example, when I
say "Elsie was walking in the garden," by using the participle I make
visible a small part of progressive action at the nucleus of the action. We
know that every action has a beginning, and we know that it has an end, but
neither beginning nor end is made visible by our use of the participle. It
is as if we point our finger at the event time, and the small part of event
time that our finger "hits" is reference time. We may say that reference
intersects event time, because it makes visible a small part of event time.
So the small part of event time that is made visible by our choice of verb
is reference time. In this case the participle is used, and this is the
I will argue that the perfective aspect in English is expressed by perfect
(and not by simple past, which is a tense). When I say, "Elsie has walked in
the garden," what I make visible is the the end of the action. We know that
the action had a beginning, and we know that it progressed over some time,
only the end is made visible. This is the perfective aspect.
The English aspectual system is very simple. The opposition is
uncompleted/completed, and when the imperfective aspect is used (present
participle) we know that the action was not concluded at reference time (at
the small area of event time that we make visible for the audience). And
when the perfective aspect is used (perfect) we know that the action was
completed at reference time.
In Hebrew there are at least five different options for the intersection of
event time by reference time when the imperfective aspect is used and at
least four options when the perfective one is used. There are other
differences as well, and this means that we cannot by the use of aspect in
Hebrew know whether an action was completed or in progress at reference
time. So there are fundamental differences between English and Hebrew
aspects, but there are similarities as well.
> b. What is the nature of your "aspect"? (and why don't you call it
> something else to avoid confusion.
In order to give some understanding of Hebrew aspect I need a rather long
description, and I may return to that later. I use the term "aspect" also
for Hebrew because in both English and Hebrew (and other aspectual
languages) it is possible to describe a particular side of the verbal system
by the relationship between reference time and event time. So the term
"aspect" is fitting even in languages where this relationship is different
University of Oslo
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