[b-hebrew] cancellable dynamicity

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Jul 1 18:54:45 EDT 2009


On Wed, Jul 1, 2009 at 11:12 AM, Yitzhak Sapir<yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello Karl,
> The term is used as a participle.  A participle is one form of a verb
> that shares
> various linguistic properties with adjectives and nouns.  The fact
> that it is used
> in the verses as a noun does not mean it stops being a participle.

Yes it does. Here it is unfortunate that we are using grammatical
terms derived from Indo-European languages, as there is a misfit
between how the term applies to Into-European languages, and how it
does not fit Biblical Hebrew use. Even a fairly cursory view of
Biblical Hebrew shows that many of the “nouns” used in the Bible are,
according to their form, verbal “participles”. One example I gave is
“spokesperson” Genesis 42:23.

>  Rolf is
> very explicit about the lack of uncancelability in dynamic participles:
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-hebrew/2004-September/020896.html
For participles used as participles in the understanding of the term.
But what about those “participles” that are nouns? Do the same rules
apply? I don’t think so.

> In this post you can see the implication of cancelability.  Verbs marked for
> dynamicity cannot be canceled.  But verbs marked for stativity can.  For
> example, "I'm just loving it."  The verb "love" is not stative according to
> Olsen.  This means that it is not marked for dynamicity.  As a result, it
> can change to dynamic interpretations based on context as in "I'm just
> loving it."
I don’t know Olsen’s argument, but my initial reaction is that this
sounds like another area where there is a misfit between Into-European
semantics and Biblical Hebrew semantics. I’ll have to look into that

> So, based on context, a verb not "marked for dynamicity" can gain a
> dynamic meaning.  This is because (according to Olsen) a verb cannot be
> "marked for stativity."  If it could, it could not gain a dynamic meaning.
> That's the point of cancelability and statitivity, as it applies to Olsen, and
> presumably Rolf's understanding.  (Rolf had gone quiet the last few days,
> so I guess he's been busy with other things).
> But here we have a case where the context causes the participle of a
> verb marked for dynamicity to lose its dynamic attributes.  That this is
> a participle used as a noun is not the issue, because in Olsen's view,
> "marked features ([+dynamic]) may not be changed by other sentential
> constituents."  When the context changes "I have a cold" (a stative
> interpretation) to "I'm having dinner" (a dynamic interpretation) it is said
> to show that "have"'s "stativity" is "cancelable."  It is the dissonance
> between the meaning of the verb given a specific context and form and
> the more general meaning of the verb that makes for its cancelability.
> So why is "NZL", "$YR", or "RWC"'s "dynamicity" not also canceled in
> these examples?
Because they are not verbs. Nouns go by different rules. E.g. to sing
has dynamic and durative properties, similarly a song. But a singer, a
noun derived by linguistic rules from the verb, can be stilled as in
sleep or death, without the noun affecting the understanding of the

While the rules for deriving nouns from verbs are different for
Biblical Hebrew than in English or other Indo-European languages, just
the fact that they are nouns means that they should be treated as
nouns, not verbs. As nouns, their actions do not follow verbal usages.
One of the areas where nouns differ from verbs is that a singer or
spokesperson can be silent, of a “flowwer” be stopped, without its
actions affecting the understanding of the verb it’s derived from.

> In your post you go back to the general meaning of the verb, but the
> question is whether context can cancel that general meaning in
> specific instances.
When used as a verb, I have yet to be shown how those ideas can be
canceled. But where it is used a noun, are we even talking about
verbal usage? Right now, I say “No”. Hence, for the moment, the
uncancelability remains intact.

> Yitzhak Sapir

Yours, Karl W. Randolph.

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