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

James Read J.Read-2 at sms.ed.ac.uk
Tue Jul 7 08:53:28 EDT 2009

Hi David,

I've made it clear on several occasions that what I feel is the  
salient point of Rolf's study is that his statistics show that both  
tense and aspect are cancellable to hebrew verbs. You seem to concur  
with this point.

Rolf's study also attempts to answer the question of 'If there is an  
uncancellable meaning to Hebrew verbs, what is it?'. As both tense and  
aspect have been shown to be cancellable Rolf provides very specific  
definitions of two groups of verbs which he chooses to call  
'imperfect' and 'perfect'. Perhaps we should call them something else  
and simply list their qualities (as Rolf has already listed in a post  
addressed to me).

As you observe the two groups are not mutually exclusive. 'Perfect'  
*can* make both the beginning and end visible but is not required to  
do so. This allows for overlap with what Rolf has called the  
'imperfect' group. Unless you are willing to engage with Rolf's  
definitions it is impossible to discuss this objectively.

You continue to challenge Rolf to show how Genesis 12:1 is imperfect  
and not perfect and yet acknowledge that Rolf's definition allows for  
overlap between 'perfect' and 'imperfect'. This makes no sense on any  
level whatsoever.

You also continue to refuse to offer a concrete definition of your use  
of the terms. All it would take is a few lines of text to make it  
clear to us how you understand and use these terms.

Just to set you straight, I am undecided if their is an uncancellable  
meaning to the BH verb system. But if there is an uncancellable  
meaning then I am unaware of any other work than Rolf's that accounts  
so well for what that is. However, my real opinion is that I still  
hold a number of reservations because:

a) We have no informants who can help us conclude the discussion
b) There is simply not enough data
c) Only a small percentage of the data we have allows for a complete analysis
d) The possibility exists that certain verbs allow for exceptions for  
semantic reasons (e.g. like 'think' in English)

You should therefore view my questions as aids to help you make your  
criticisms more concrete and academically acceptable rather than  
assuming I am against your position. How could I be against your  
position when you still have not defined it properly?

In summary, I am (as yet) undecided but as it stands Rolf has shown a  
higher level of academic practice in his style of presentation and has  
succeeded in answering the question he posed (If the BH verb system  
has an uncancellable meaning, what is it?). You may have some good  
points to make but are losing the attention of many list members by  
your refusal to engage in good academic practice.

James Christian

The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
Scotland, with registration number SC005336.

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