[b-hebrew] Verbs

James Spinti jspinti at eisenbrauns.com
Thu Dec 13 08:58:01 EST 2012


Again, from John
________________________________
James Spinti
E-mail marketing, Book Sales Division
Eisenbrauns, Good books for more than 35 years
Specializing in Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Studies
jspinti at eisenbrauns dot com
Web: http://www.eisenbrauns.com
Phone: 260-445-3118
Fax: 574-269-6788

Begin forwarded message:
> 
> ******************
> Dear Rolf,
> 
> Sorry I assumed that you would be offended by a perceived ad hominem attack; most people understand that to be offensive. I'm unwilling to adhere to your pessimistic assumption: "there is no final answer to the meaning of the Hebrew verbal system." This seems merely a rouse to allow yourself the freedom to claim whatever notions you want about the system. If you merely mean that there is no FINAL answer as in any other area of knowledge, then what is not self-evident about that and why should it give us any pause in our discussion: while a final answer may not be forthcoming, some answers are better than others. I'm not at all sure that the "balanced scholarly approach" is "to question the conclusions of other scholars" but rather to examine the data. But then that was my point: that all this theoretical posturing does not permit adequate attention to the data.
> 
> And to repeat my point, I am not attacking people, even as you note that I've called Andrason's approach naive, not Andrason himself (after all, don't we regularly engage in calling actions evil without wanting to be so politically incorrect as to call the people evil?)
> 
> But to oblige you in your questions:
> 
> 1) The definitions of the Hebrew verbal system have varied in the past 150 years, though not greatly: there have traditionally been two main camps, tense-prominent (e.g., Blake, Joüon) and aspect prominent (e.g., Rundgren, Waltke and O'Connor). But then these definitions have become "refined" as linguists have refined their understanding. The problem is that the BH discussion lags behind the linguistic discussion.
> 
> 2) The definitions I speak of are those linguists employ regularly and without dispute among themselves (we're a long way from Comrie 1976!): see the chapter on perfective/imperfective aspect on WALS (http://wals.info/chapter/65). Linguists regularly employ these terms to analyze a wide variety of language without getting stuck on defining what aspect nor with special pleading that such and such language has aspect but not in the same way as everyone else understands it.
> 
> 3) These definitions arise from the past quarter-century and more of inductive study of verbal systems and the recognition of the type of temporal relations that human language may express. So I suppose to be pointed: they are not a priori, but they are both inductively based and philosophically based (going back to Aristotle, grammarians recognize that elements of "time" are regularly expressed by verbs, and these are the definitions of the types of temporal relationships that verbs regularly encode).
> 
> 4 and 5) Yes, deictic center, event time, and reference time are features of many analyses of verbal systems, arising from Reichenbach's  (1947) ideas on tense. They are widely agreed upon by linguists.
> 
> 6) No, it is not silly to systematically apply these concepts to determine the meaning of the Hebrew verbal system, but it does not follow that one's systematic applications of these concepts is nevertheless silly, and that was my point about your work. You neither systematically apply them nor is your reasoning frequently sound. You engage in special pleading that other considerations (esp. pragmatics) need to be taken into account, yet you have not adequately critiqued your understanding of pragmatics: it becomes for you a deus ex machina for any and all objections to your analysis.
> 
> John
> http://ancienthebrewgrammar.wordpress.com/
> 
> 
> 
> On Dec 13, 2012, at 3:04 AM, b-hebrew-request at lists.ibiblio.org wrote:
> 
>> ------------------------------
>> 
>> Message: 8
>> Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2012 09:04:16 +0100
>> From: "Rolf" <rolf.furuli at sf-nett.no>
>> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] More on verbs
>> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
>> Message-ID: <6504-50c98c00-11-443b0c80 at 82471991>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>> 
>> Dear James,
>> 
>> I am not "dancing around definitions" and I am not offended?I did not discuss my emotions?but I try to keep my discussions on a scholarly non-emotional level. However, I found that what James Spinti called a "nice overview, contained language that questioned the abilities  and scholarly knowledge of some who view Hebrew verbs differently from yourself, instead of addressing the linguistic questions. This is what I call "ad hominem arguments" For example, when you speak about Andrason's "lack of a clear grasp of the Hebrew data" and say that his approach is "naive," this is an attack on the scholar or person Andrason. And what is the premise for this evaluation of the scholar Andrason? That you KNOW; you have the answers. And the approaches of those who do not agree with what you KNOW, are naive and silly, and these scholars lack a knowledge of the Hebrew data.
>> 
>> I would like to remind you that there is no final answer to the meaning of the Hebrew verbal system. Any study of Hebrew verbs, including your own study, is based on induction, deduction, and on several basic assumptions (axioms). A balanced scholarly approach, therefore, would be to  question the conclusions of other scholars on the basis of  linguistic arguments, and not calling their approaches or persons with names.
>> 
>> I do not think that you have given adequate answers to my previous post, so I would like to comment on one point in each post. My focus now is on your words: " It is just silly to continue arguing over basic definitions that are widely agreed upon already, because it both wastes time and halts progress." I have some questions:
>> 
>> 1)  Is it true that the definitions of the Hebrew verbal system have differed greatly during the last 150 years (cf. the works McFall, Blake, Rundgren, Waltke-O'Connor, Jo?on_Muraoka, and others)?
>> 
>> 2) What are the definitions used in the study of Hebrew verbs that are "widely agreed upon"?
>> 
>> 3) Do these definitions have a particular basis, or are they just just a priori definitions, or definitions based on common sense?
>> 
>> 4) Is it true that the concepts "deictic center," event time," and "reference time" are fundamental linguistic concepts that are used by linguists in their study of the verbs of different languages?
>> 
>> 5) Is it true that the nature/meaning of the three concepts are widely agreed upon?
>> 
>> If you give  confirmatory answers to 4) and 5), my question is?
>> 
>> 6) in which sense is it silly to systematically apply the mentioned three concepts to the Hebrew verbal system in order to try to find the meaning of each conjugation, instead of just accepting traditional definitions a priori?
>> 
>> 
>> Best regards,
>> 
>> 
>> Rolf Furuli
>> Stavern
>> Norway
> 

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