[b-hebrew] b-hebrew Uncancellable meaning and Hebrew verbs

James Read J.Read-2 at sms.ed.ac.uk
Sat Jul 4 11:34:58 EDT 2009

Hi David,

it would seem that you have completely misunderstood my request. I  
didn't ask you if you agree with Rolf's definition of perfect and  
imperfect aspect. Rolf has provided statistics of the verb forms with  
respect to temporal reference.

I was interested in you performing an analysis using the tools Rolf  
has used to see if you come up with statistics that vary to any  
significant degree. I consider 1 verb form to be an excessively small  
corpus and you failed to show what linguistic tools you used to  
analyse the verb form.

James Christian

Quoting David Kummerow <farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com>:

> Hi James,
>> Hi David,
>> I haven't read your article and don't where it is. I'm guessing from
>> comments in this email that your basic position is that different forms
>> have different uses and that there is generally a usage which occurs
>> frequently enough to be the default understanding. If so, then we seem
>> to agree on this point.
>> May I make an observation? Very often in all fields of research we see a
>> flame war of some kind, the opposing parties of which, at first glance,
>> seem to have contradictory views. However, on closer inspection these
>> flame wars generally boil down to minor misunderstandings and that, in
>> actual fact, the two parties seem to be defending almost the exact same
>> position but with different approaches that blind the opponents from
>> realising just how similar their position is. This seems to me to be
>> what is happening between you and Rolf.
>> When we analyse your positions closely you both seem to be saying almost
>> the exact same thing but with different approaches. You both seem to
>> concur that:
>> 1) pragmatics and semantics both have influences
>> 2) pragmatics can cancel default semantics
> I agree. But Rolf disagrees. And that is the basic sticking point. For
> him, any meaning which is able to be cancelled is not in fact semantic
> meaning but is pragmatic.
>> 3) the pragmatics in our hebrew corpus show that tense is often cancelled
>> 4) the pragmatics in our hebrew corpus show that aspect is often cancelled
> I agree. But Rolf redefines aspect so that to his reading of the text in
> every case it is not cancelled. Again, this is a sticking point -- hence
> my questions regarding wayyomer.
>> 5) the corpus shows that hebrew verbs have different uses as Rolf's
>> statistics show
>> It seems to me that the reason you seem to be blinded to the fact that
>> you are arguing an almost exact stance as Rolf is that you seem to be
>> stuck on this uncancellable meaning thing and Rolf's conclusions of the
>> uncancellable meaning of the verb forms.
> No, that's not true. See my responses above.
>> Rolf has already made it quite
>> clear that the uncancellable meaning thing is actually a very small part
>> of the study.
> Not true. PLease read his dissertation. Trying to find the uncancellable
> meaning of the BH verbal forms is his aim throughout his work!
>> The most salient part of the study, and what you seem to
>> be missing, is his analysis of the verbs and the statistics he has
>> gathered which show the various uses of the verbs and that both tense
>> and aspect are often cancelled.
> No, he claims that his definitions are suitable for every example in the
> corpus.
>> Rolf has also made it clear that he
>> accepts the possibility that there may be no uncancellable meaning to
>> the verb forms but has shown that if there is an uncancellable meaning
>> that his study attempts to explain what it is.
>> At the end of the day it really makes little difference if there is or
>> is not an uncancellable meaning. It is very unlikely that the hebrews
>> were conscious of such a meaning when they used the verb forms. What
>> they were conscious of (I conclude by introspection) was the intended
>> usage they had in mind each time they used the verb forms. So the really
>> interesting question is "What signals can we reliably use to discern the
>> intended usage?" rather than "What is the hypothetical uncancellable
>> meaning that the hebrews were unaware of?".
>> The great value of Rolf's study is the statistics he has gathered using
>> his method of analysing the verbs.
> Yes, I agree wholeheartedly and stated this explicitly in my review.
>> This gives us a starting point to
>> consider the different usages and ways of identifying them reliably. And
>> so, as I have said before, if you really wish to give a worthwhile
>> critique of Rolf's work, it's high time you moved on from the
>> uncancellable meaning thing and moved onto Rolf's technique of analysis.
> James, I've already published in this area. I do not get what you
> meaning by "moving on from the uncancellable meaning thing" -- as I've
> been arguing, we should all move on from it because it is not a
> linguistic reality. I can't "move on" from it because I do not hold that
> position myself.
>> I would like to invite you one more time to analyse a section of the
>> corpus using Rolf's method to see if your results have any major
>> disagreements with Rolf's.
> Well, OK, I'll start at Gen 12:1. First verb is problematic. Default
> construal can really only be taken as past perfective. Rolf would say
> that it is past imperfective. Already we see it not working so I see no
> point in continuing on.
> Regards,
> David Kummerow.
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