[b-hebrew] Verbal Aspect (was Tenses - Deut 6:4)

David Kummerow farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Mon Apr 2 01:34:03 EDT 2007

Hi George,

Here's another reference on this topic which I found on Friday:

Moore, Kevin E. 2006. “Space-to-Time Mappings and Temporal Concepts.” 
Cognitive Linguistics 17: 199-244.

Again, the finding is the same: deictic conceptualisation of verb forms 
only occurs when tense is to some degree grammaticalised.

David Kummerow.

> Hi George,
> I have now found mention of a slight link between spatial deixis (which, 
> I take it, is a necessary condition to give rise to the 
> conceptualisation of viewing "the significance of verbs spatially") and 
> aspect. Dahl (1998: 67) says regarding progressives: "The overwhelming 
> majority of progressive constructions in the world's languages are 
> periphrastic and originate in various types of phraseological 
> constructions, often with an original spatial meaning, such as 'be at 
> doing something.'" Note, though, that this is different to what you are 
> suggesting and the link between aspect and spatial deixis is there only 
> in some progressive constructions, not for perfective or imperfective.
> Dahl, Östen. 1998. “Aspect.” Pages 64-71 in Concise Encyclopedia of 
> Pragmatics. Edited by Jacob L. Mey. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
> Regards,
> David Kummerow.
>> Gday George.
>> Sorry that I misunderstood you. But you did say: "the verbal 
>> conjugations do not speak so much about tense, but rather the reader's 
>> distance from the action. In other words, the verbs do not work on a 
>> temporal plain, but rather a spatial plain. Tense must be inferred 
>> secondarily from the spatial sphere."
>> So is it that you understand the verbal system as grammaticalising a
>> foreground-background distinction and/or grammaticalising information
>> structure? But this view would have to be a little more nuanced than 
>> simply "actions of lesser or background significance are given in 
>> YIQTOL" etc etc; ie these types of distinctions would only apply in 
>> certain "text types", so a more fine-grained or constructional 
>> approach would be necessary.
>> Personally, I think the view that the BH verbal system grammaticalises 
>> "the significance of verbs spatially" needs substantial justificantion 
>> in the light of the crosslinguistic or typological evidence which 
>> would dictate otherwise. That is, since other languages do not seem to 
>> grammaticalise "the significance of actions spatially" but rather TIME 
>> is viewed spatially, then this calls into question this understanding 
>> of BH. Now it could be that BH is unique - so unique that it is unlike 
>> any other language we know of in this regard - but that needs 
>> substantial justification I think, esp. with a dead language where we 
>> do not have speakers.
>> In any case, see the methodology advanced in:
>> Miller, Cynthia L. "Methodological Issues in Reconstructing Language 
>> Systems
>> from Epigraphic Fragments." Pages 281-305 in _The Future of Biblical
>> Archaeology: Reassessing Methodologies and Assumptions_. Edited by 
>> James K. Hoffmeier and Alan Millard. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004.
>> Regards,
>> David Kummerow.

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