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

James Read J.Read-2 at sms.ed.ac.uk
Wed Jul 8 14:19:54 EDT 2009

Hi Rolf,

I've snipped most for the sake of brevity:

>> 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.

OK! In English the present progressive represents an action started in  
the past and continuing in the present. In most other languages I know  
this is achieved by use of the present in conjunction with a temporal  
adverbial phrase which signals the intended usage.

However, the point of me presenting the examples above was to show  
that while 'He has been ...' has a similar sense to 'He has been  
...ing' strictly speaking the form 'He has been ...' is present  
perfect but has different meaning to similar structures with active  
verbs like 'I have been to ...'.

> 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)?

In 3 I would understand both the imperfect and the perfect aspect  
being made visible as you analysed the 'He has been ... ' phrase  
above. That is to say that two features are revealed

a) The length of time the thing has been known (perfective sense)
b) The ongoing knowledge (imperfective sense)

Consider also the following:

4) I have felt this way for a long time
5) I have had this email account for almost a year

These emails seem to indicate that certain verbs are used in the  
present perfect construction but with a present progressive sense. The  
semantics of the verb overrides the default sense of the construction.

Conversely, consider:

6) I have been having this email account for almost a year
7) He has been being in the corner for a long time

In fact, as the above examples show, when we attempt to use the  
present progressive construction with these verbs the sentence sounds  
odd although it is possible for us to extract the intended sense.

I dare say that a similar phenomenon may have happened in BH. That is  
to say that the semantics of individual verbs could override the  
semantics of the verb form. However, we simply do not have the data  
required to fully test this.

James Christian

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

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list