[b-hebrew] cancellable dynamicity

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Fri Jul 3 04:38:48 EDT 2009

Dear Karl,

I have not continued to participate in this thread because I think it 
is a waste of time to discuss something that is settled. You have 
made many good observations in this thread, and of course, to discuss 
whether a particular word has an uncancellable property has a little 
more merit. But again, I prefer to discuss more important matters.

I will illustrate my answer regarding the Hebrew participle with an 
observation regarding the English aspectual system, where I take the 
participle as the imperfective and perfect as the perfective aspect. 
In verbs marked for dynamicity, durativity, or telicity, the 
uncancellable factor is a characteristic or property of the verb. 
Regarding English aspects the uncancellable factor is a relationship. 
Broman Olsen (1997:59) says:

"situations with marked lexical aspect features have a uniform 
interpretation in each grammatical aspect form (imperfective and 
perfective), whereas the interpretation of situations unmarked for a 
given feature vary."

We note that "the uniform interpretations" relate to  situations 
where the the participle and the perfect  are used as predicates. The 
"uniform interpretation" of the participle does not refer to the 
participle per se but  to its use as a predicate in a clause. So, 
participles used as adjectives are no counterexamples of the uniform 
interpretation, because they have no aspectual properties. And the 
same is true in Hebrew and other Semitic languages. The same root can 
be used as a verb, a substantive, an adjective, and sometimes even as 
a preposition. So only when the Hebrew participle functions as a 
verb, we can speak of uncancellable properties. A participle used as 
an adjective or as a substantive is something different.

Then back to uncancellable relationships and the English aspects. I 
have already given one example of a participle used to signal a 
completed action, But it was used as a counterfactual effect in a 
poetic context. Broman Olsen claims that each of the English aspects 
has a uniform interpretation. In order to falsify that claim, one has 
to find normal situations where the participle and the perfect have 
exactly the same interpretation, i.e., where the participle signals 
completed action and the perfect signals uncompleted action. If such 
situations cannot be found, we have before our eyes an uncancellable 
grammatical relationship.

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

>The question is, does Rolf see verbal participles as different from
>nominative participles?
>Right now I'm inclined to say that they are different, and that the
>rules of uncancelability do not apply to both equally. If Rolf says
>that they are equal, then we'll have some fun.
>Karl W. Randolph.
>On Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 2:53 PM, Yitzhak Sapir<yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:
>>  On Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 5:02 AM, K Randolph wrote:
>>>  Right now I'm willing to live with a certain amount of fuzziness in
>>>  understanding, but if you insist that I choose one side or the other,
>>>  I would say that in Biblical Hebrew a participle = noun, hence not to
>>>  be treated as a verb.
>>  I am not insisting that you choose one side or the other.  I said that
>>  you should treat them consistently -- not choosing one side or the
>>  other in different cases based on your perception of grammar.  My
>>  preference is to view them all as "fuzzy" between both a noun and
>>  a verb.  Rolf was very explicit in his claims and stated that both
>>  infinitives and participles -- without exception -- are not cancellable,
>>  so you'd seem to be at odds with his view.  Again, cancellable here
>>  (based on Olsen) means that context cannot cause a verb to lose
>>  its inherent meaning (such as dynamicity).  I get the feeling you've
>>  got a different view of cancellability.
>>  Yitzhak Sapir
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