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

James Read J.Read-2 at sms.ed.ac.uk
Wed Jul 8 02:38:11 EDT 2009

Hi David,

Quoting David Kummerow <farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com>:

>> 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.
> James, neither Rolf nor I use the language of 'perfect' and 'imperfect';
> rather, we use the aspectual terminology of 'perfective' and
> 'imperfective'. Linguistically, there is a difference, although Hebrew
> scholars have tended to use the language of 'perfect' when really they
> meant 'perfective'.
> Now, I still do not see how Rolf's definition of imperfective can
> possibly suit wayyo'mer of Gen 12:1. The verb would include both the
> beginning and end of the speech event (not 'resultative' as per Rolf's
> definition and not interrupted so as to not include the end), hence
> perfective under both Rolf's definition and the traditional definition
> of perfective. Yet Rolf's claim is the WAYYIQTOL is consistently
> imperfective throughout the entire corpus.

No. His claim is that it may be consistently 'imperfective' throughout  
the corpus according to his refined definition of 'imperfective' but  
that only a minority of examples are clear enough analyse this.

>> 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.
> I've provided Comrie's definition to which I agree.

And that definition is? What parameters can be used to test a form  
fits it? Rolf has clearly defined these. You still have not. You keep  
referring to 'traditional' definitions and assume everybody has a  
common understanding of this.

>> 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:
> Well, we have a totally different opinion here. I do not think Rolf
> accounts well with the data at all. Much evidence which has bearing on
> the issue is left untreated in his work which I mention in my review.

What kind of evidence? Are you implying that analysable sentences are  
not considered in Rolf's work?

>> 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?
> OK, that's fine. You kept pushing me to show how wayyo'mer in Gen 12:1
> is imperfective, but I do not agree with this. Maybe you don't either,
> but please don't try to get me to say things which I don't accept.

No I didn't. I asked you to demonstrate how it is perfective. You then  
misapplied Rolf's method to show this (only after several requests).  
Rolf showed you how you had misapplied the method. To this date you  
have not addressed this. Nor have you formally defined another system  
of testing the presence of what you keep calling the 'traditional'  
definition of perfective. Nor have you presented a test analysis of  
Genesis 12:1 that shows its perfective nature according to your test  
method. This behaviour makes it difficult for me to analyse your  
reasoning and distances me from whatever position you are trying to  
make (which to be honest is still unclear as you have not made it  

In summary, you probably still have valid points to make but are not  
making them because you continue to refuse to engage in good academic  

>> 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, he has not succeeded in showing what the uncancellable meaning
> is. Regarding WAYYIQTOL, he's only shown that it may be imperfective in
> a minority of occurrences in the corpus. This says nothing about the
> other occurrences of WAYYIQTOL in the corpus.

This is a misrepresentation of what Rolf is saying. Rolf is saying  
that the majority of sentences are in ambiguous contexts. He therefore  
analyses the unambiguous ones and claims that he finds them to conform  
to 100% pattern. He then makes the reasonable conclusion that the  
ambiguous sentences should show similar statistics to the unambiguous  
ones. i.e. he extrapolates.

If you are searching for a weak link in his argument you should  
therefore turn you attention to the unambiguous sentences and see if  
you agree with his analyses. Another possible weak link you may wish  
to attack is to attempt to discover unambiguous sentences which Rolf  
considers to be ambiguous. Of course, you would need to use the same  
method and parameters or attack the method and parameters themselves.  
Until now you have only agreed with the soundness of the method and  
parameters but failed to show that you understand them completely.

Until you start doing this it is hard to accept anything you say as  
academically sound.

James Christian

>> James Christian
> Regards,
> David Kummerow.
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