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

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Wed Jul 8 13:26:22 EDT 2009

Dear James,

See my comments below.

>Hi Rolf,
>Quoting Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no>:
>>Dear James,
>>Your questions below are appropriate, so I will give a few examples.
>>But for my part I think it is time to stop participating in this
>>thread. I see no reason to participate in a discussion for the sake
>>of the discussion, as some do, in order to get the last word. I have
>>tried to concentrate on the big issues of Hebrew verbs, and for those
>>interested, I think it is time to read the works of Comrie, Broman
>>Olsen and myself.
>>The deictic center (C) is the vantage point from which an event is
>>seen. It is often the present moment or the time of writing. Events
>>that are not instantaneous take time, and the time from the beginning
>>to the end is "event time"  (E). Because of the nature of the
>>English verbal system, E is in most cases considered in relation to a
>>time line. But that is not necessary, because we can speak of "a
>>two-hour walk" without placing it in the past or in the future.
>>Communication means that the speaker or writer makes the whole event
>>or a part of that event visible for the listener or reader. In order
>>to make a particular part visible, aspects are used-in English the
>>participle and perfect. The parameter "reference time" (R) can be
>>compared to a pointing finger that points to a particular part of an
>>event, either after the beginning and before the end, or at the end
>>(the only two options in English). The small part of event time being
>>made visible by the pointing finger is reference time (R). To say it
>>in a technical way, R intersects E at the nucleus when the
>>imperfective aspect is used and at the coda when the perfective
>>aspect is used. Please consider the four examples below.
>>(1) She was walking in the garden.
>>(2) She has walked in the garden.
>>(3) #Yesterday she has walked in the garden.
>>(4) While she was walking in the garden, her husband entered the scene.
>>The form "was"  in (1) signals that R comes before C, which is the
>>present moment. This means that we know that the walking-event
>>factually was terminated- its end had been reached before the present
>>moment. However, the writer of the clause, while signalling that the
>>event is terminated, does not want to make the whole event visible
>>for his audience. He points his finger at the middle of the event;
>>thus R intersects E at the nucleus. There can be reasons for making
>>just a part of the event visible, such as we see in (4).
>>Perfect can be defined as "the continuing present relevance of a past
>>situation". In (2) perfect is used, and that connects the
>>walking-event with the present moment. We know that the event is
>>terminated, and the author's finger points at the end of the event-R
>>intersects E at the coda. The two hours of the walking-event is not
>>made visible, only its termination.
>>Clause (3) is ungrammatical because the event is not connected with
>>the present moment. This example can throw some light on your view
>>that "tense and aspect are cancellable to the verb system of all
>>languages". I guess that if we observed people for a long time in the
>>UK or the US, we would discover one or more persons who used clauses
>>similar to (3); thus speaking in an ungrammatical way. The
>>consequence would be that "the present relevance" of perfect was
>>cancelled, and your words are justified. But we must remember that
>>this is an ungrammatical use, which means that there are particular
>>rules, and these are violated.
>>This throws light on my use of "semantic meaning". I would say that
>>the English perfect (the perfective aspect) has a uniform
>>interpretation-a past event is connected with the present moment.
>>This is the use governed by grammatical rules, and counterexamples
>>should not violate grammatical rules, but they should be found in
>>normal speech situations.
>>The interesting question therefore is: Can we find normal uses of the
>>perfect in English were R does not intersect E at the coda? In other
>>words, can we find examples of perfect that signals that the end of
>>the event has not yet been reached? If such examples cannot be found,
>>we should accept that English perfect has an uncancellable semantic
>>Best regards,
>>Rolf Furuli
>>University of Oslo
>>>Hi Rolf,
>>>for the benefit of the list members can you provide a quick
>>>explanation of tense and aspect as defined by your parameters event
>>>time, reference time and deictic centre with a couple of example
>>>sentences that illustrate the use of the tools?
>>>I'm fairly sure that using this same method and applying it to any
>>>modern language we would find that both tense and aspect are
>>>cancellable to the verb systems of all languages. The reason I make
>>>this observation is that while I concede that there may be an
>>>uncancellable meaning which is common to all uses of a verb form I'm
>>>pretty sure that language speakers are unaware of it when they use a
>>>verb form and are more conscious of the use they wished to express.
>Consider the following almost synonymous sentences:
>1) He has been in the corner for over an hour.
>2) He has been standing in the corner for over an hour.

Broman Olsen analyses 1) and 2) as "present perfect progressive," 
which means that it is a combination of the imperfective and 
perfective aspects - and I agree. First E is intersected by R at the 
nucleus, and then at the coda. A clause in present perfective 
progressive cannot be compared with a perfect clause.

In order to find examples where the perfective aspect portrays 
actions that are ongoing, and where the end is not reached, you can 
only use the perfect participle - he has stood.

>Also consider the following:
>1) I have gone for a long time (doesn't make sense)
>2) I have been gone for a long time (now makes sense)
>3) I have known this for a long time (unlike sentence 1 this makes sense)

Where is the intersection of E by R in 3)? Please consider a) and b) 
below. I do not have the intuition of a native speaker, but for me a) 
is a good clause, while b) is odd and ungrammatical. In a) there is 
agreement in time between "was" and "was born, and R intersects E at 
the nucleus. But in b) there is not agreement between "have known" 
and "was born, because "was born" is in the past and "have known" i 
connected with the present. So, in 3) R intersects E at the coda.

a) While I was knowing the secret, my daughter was born.

b) While I have known the secret, my daughter was born.

We can also use fientive examples, as seen in c) and d). Here again, 
I would say that d) is odd and ungrammatical.

c) While I was working in London, my daughter was born.

d) While I have worked in London, my daughter was born.

We may use other stative examples, as in e-h). Clause e)  is a fine 
clause even if the stay in California terminated two year before the 
utterance. But still it has a connection with the present, as seen in 
f) which is odd and g) which is fine. Clause h) is odd and 
ungrammatical, so again, R intersects E at the coda.

e) I have been in California.

f) The late Lord Russel has been in California.

g) The late Lord Russel had been in California.

h) While I have been in California, my daughter was born.

On the basis of your and my examples I still stick to the view that 
English perfect (have + the perfective participle) has a uniform 
interpretation: R intersects E at the coda.

>As I mentioned, I suspect that each language may have specific verbs 
>which can cancel a default grammaticalisation because of internal 
>semantic reasons like English 'think'. e.g.
>He works at the factory (repeated event)
>He thinks she's lying (reference limited to the present)
>These examples illustrate my major reservation with your work at 
>this time. Have you considered the possibility of semantic factors 
>constrained to specific verbs?
>James Christian
>>>James Christian

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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