[b-hebrew] b-hebrew Uncancellable meaning and Hebrew verbs
J.Read-2 at sms.ed.ac.uk
Wed Jul 1 11:41:54 EDT 2009
you keep on attacking uncancelability as if it is, in some way,
sufficient to undermine Rolf's analysis of the uses of the verbs in
biblical hebrew. To the best of my recollection (correct me if I am
wrong) you have not stated a concrete position that you hold with
respect to the various verb forms but various statements seem to
indicate that you uphold other traditional analyses.
May I point out to you that your position on uncancellability of
meaning seems to undermine your being able to hold any kind of
position on the meaning of verb forms? You yourself are arguing that
meaning can be cancelled by context. So how could you then defend any
I think you may be able to read Rolf's work better if you approach it
this way. Instead of assuming that the work falls down without the
foundation of uncancellability you could ask the question 'If there
was an uncancellable meaning what would it be?'. I think then you can
see the true value of Rolf's work. You can then see that his analysis
shows that tense is not uncancellable to the verb forms. This seems to
me to be one of the most salient points of the study. This, of course,
does not mean that verb forms were never used without a tense in mind.
The possibility exists that there are different usages that conform to
different patterns. It would be interesting if somebody followed up
Rolf's work to explore this issue.
We can take for example English verbs. Usually there is a usage which
we consider to be the default. e.g.
I play football every Thursday evening
Jill goes to church on Sundays
Fred works in the factory
These examples illustrate a default of repeated action expressed by
the present simple in English. However, this default can easily be
cancelled by context. e.g.
A man walks into a bar and says 'Ouch!'.
Context reveals a story in the past. The default can also be cancelled
for semantic reasons. e.g.
He thinks she's lying
Certain verbs, as above, can use the present simple with a present sense.
Anyway, all this aside, if you really wish to attack Rolf's study I
would suggest applying his method of analysis to any given text and
seeing if you can find fault with the method. Your attack on
uncancellability really isn't going anywhere. Because such an attack
undermines every interpretation of the verb forms.
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