[b-hebrew] VERBS

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Wed Jul 27 02:57:12 EDT 2005

Dear Dave,

I have sent a lengthy post to Joel, and this also has a relation to some of 
your points.

Please note that my viewpoint is synchronic: At a given point in time there 
are characteristics of words that are uncancellable.  I do not deny that 
languages change over time.

Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dave Washburn" <dwashbur at nyx.net>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, July 26, 2005 5:44 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] VERBS

> I'm only going to address part of this:
> On Tuesday 26 July 2005 09:29, Rolf Furuli wrote:
> [snip]
>> I will use two English examples:
>> 1) The verb "to sing" has the characteristics durativity (the action 
>> occurs
>> over time) and dynamicity (the action changes). Regardless of the context
>> of this verb, the characteristics durativity and dynamicity cannot be
>> cancelled.  "To sing" will always indicate that words and melody come out
>> of someone`s mouth, and this is durativity and dynamicity.
> Hardly.  It's common English (American, at least) parlance to say "You 
> really
> make that hammer sing" to someone who is adept at driving a nail, usually
> with a single blow.  The meaning is that the person has exceptional skill 
> in
> the field, and has nothing to do with durativity or dynamicity.
>> 2) The verb form "went" is grammaticalized past tense, and the semantic
>> meaning (relationship) here is that reference time must occur before the
>> deictic center (i.e. the action must occur before the present moment ).
> In the old "Cisco Kid" TV series, Cisco's sidekick would frequently say 
> "Let's
> went."  People liked the expression so much that it actually became a 
> common
> feature of American language for several decades. Although it is fading 
> now,
> one still hears it here and there and it's not considered erroneous.
> The idea that words have some kind of "uncancellable" semantic feature(s)
> presupposes that words have some kind of inherent "meaning", whatever one
> chooses to mean by that term.  But they don't.  Words mean what they mean
> because a society chooses to use them that way.  Thus, any feature of any
> word may be cancelled if the society in question comes to accept a 
> different
> usage.  Unlike the famous Humpty Dumpty dictum, such cancellation can't be
> arbitrarily assigned by a single individual at a single point in time; 
> this
> is why I say "a society," because the usage must come to be accepted by at
> least a significant portion of a particular culture.  Once upon a time, it
> was a foregone conclusion that "bad" carried negative connotations as part 
> of
> its "uncancellable" meaning.  Now, because of the influence of a 
> particular
> American sub-culture, more and more parts of society are coming to accept
> that "bad" may be either negative or positive: "You did a bad thing" vs.
> "Those are some bad shoes!"  The word "breakfast" used to mean the first 
> meal
> of the day, generally taken in the morning after waking; thanks to a very
> successful advertising campaign in the 1970's it now refers to a certain
> group of foods that might be taken at any time of day for any meal.  Words 
> do
> not have inherent meaning; they mean what we the society choose to make 
> them
> mean, and those meanings only come about by common consent, not anything
> built into the words themselves.
> [snip]
> -- 
> Dave Washburn
> http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
> "Well, if I'd wanted a safe life, I guess I wouldn't have
> married a man who studies rocks." - Betty Armstrong (Fay Masterson)
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