[b-hebrew] VERBS

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Wed Jul 27 13:17:53 EDT 2005

Dear Joel,

See my comments below.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dr. Joel M. Hoffman" <joel at exc.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Cc: <furuli at online.no>
Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2005 3:55 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] VERBS

> >I would like to use telicity as a example.
>>The book  "A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics" 4th ed, by David
>>Crystal (2001) says that telicity refers "to an event where the activity 
>>a clear terminal point. Telic verbs include fall, kick, and make". Let us
>>look at the Hebrew equivalents for two of these verbs, namely, BR) 
>>and NPL (fall). I am quite sure that Hebrew children knew that the end was
> Looking at the ancient Hebrew isn't useful, because we don't know the
> answer.  Rather, I think, we should look at English, and see that the
> claim doesn't hold up.  Based on that, I think we have to assume that
> it doesn't hold up in Hebrew, either (or, indeed, in any language of
> which I am aware).

Are you really saying that we cannot study Hebrew in its own right as far as 
Aktionsart and other characteristics are concerned?  Would one of your 
students have passed his exam if he made a claim regarding Hebrew, and when 
you asked for examples, he could not give any, but referred to English?
> Regarding "fall":  "The Devil created an endless pit and Korah fell
> forever, never hitting bottom." (Please forgive the fanciful content
> of my example.)  Your assertion

By the use of this example you show that you have not fully understood what 
telicity means, because your clause is an excellent example of the 
uncancellability of telicity; the very opposite of what you intended. The 
characteristic telicity means that the end of an action *conceptually* is 
included in the verb`s meaning/Aktionsart, and not necessarily that this end 
was reached.

For example, the word BN) (build) is marked for durativity and dynamicity, 
but not for telicity. However, if we add an object, we can get a telic verb 
phrase, as in "build a house". Please look at the clause below.

"Last Year Al started to build a house, but he never finished it."

It is clear that the end was not reached, but does that mean that the 
telicity of "started to build a house" is blotted out?  Not at all.  True, 
in your example about the devil  the goal was not reached, but NPL in this 
example explicitly is telic, because, by using "never hit the bottom" you 
imply a goal for the verb which was not reached. Even if you only had said 
"Korah fell for ever," the cancellability was not blotted out, because there 
is nothing in the clause saying that the normal meaning of NPL was changed.

What you need to do to demonstrate that no Aktionsart characteristic is 
uncancellable is not to find different kinds of strange and unnatural 
examples, but rather to demonstrate conclusively that the Aktionsart of a 
durative verb is changed to punctiliar, that the Aktionsart of a dynamic 
verb is changed to stative, and the Aktionsart of a telic verb is changed to 

For example, what about BR) (create), can examples be found where a goal is 
not *conceptually* included? And what about BN), can punctiliar examples of 
this verb be found?

>>something was made. And when NPL was used, every child knew that the 
>>or thing falling would not remain in the air, but would meet some kind of
> just seems wrong.
>>So I ask: Are there situations where the telicity of BR) and NPL can be
>>blotted out or changed by the context?
> Yes.  That's my point.
> -Joel

Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo 

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