[b-hebrew] More on verbs

Rolf rolf.furuli at sf-nett.no
Thu Dec 13 10:28:01 EST 2012

Dear John,

In order to avoid focusing on several points at the same time, in this post I discuss just one of your points.

> > 
> >> From: John Cook <jacookvwbus at yahoo.com>
> >> Date: December 12, 2012, 10:42:30 AM EST
> >> To: "b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org"; <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> >> Subject: Tense
> >> 
> >> **Forgive my tardy taking up of this thread; I had previously submitted this from the wrong e-mail and it bounced!**
> >> 
> >> Dear Rolf, Frank, et al,

> >> 
> >> Let me respond briefly to some of Rolf's comments on this specific passage, as it is generally instructive:
> >> 
> >>> RF: If you expect the readers to understand what you write, in this case you must define "tense." I agree that the reference is past, and why can we say that? Because 2:19 is a part of a piece of narrative. And the verbs that carry the action forward in narratives have by definition past reference. But these verbs need not have past tense or have the perfective aspect; In Phoenician, infinitive absolutes are used as narrative verbs, and they neither are tenses nor aspects. I analyze the verse in the following way: The setting is the creation of animals and birds, bringing them to Adam, and the naming of these. All this must have taken some time, as you observe.
> >> 
> >> 
> >> This is a wonderfully clear illustration of the viciously circular reasoning we need to avoid to make headway: of course the verb in 2:19 has a past reference because it is part of a narrative, which is past by definition; and how do we know that it is a past narrative, because the verbs that make it past indicate that to us (so would Weinrich argue too!). Can any deny that this is viciously circular and begs the whole question of what the verb forms actually indicate since presumably we can tell this is narrative apart from the verbs but yet discourse analysis tells us the verbs indicate the type of discourse.
> >> 

RF: Your accusation of circular reasoning is strange indeed. I agree with the following definition of circular reasoning: 

"Circular reasoning: a use of reason in which the premises depends on or is equivalent to the conclusion, a method of false logic by which "this is used to prove that, and that is used to prove this; also called circular logic."


I understand the term "narrative" as "the telling of a story or an account of a sequence of events."  The sequence of events consists of clauses with verbs (although nominal clauses can be included). Several factors signal that a group of sentences constitute a narrative, particularly the lexical meaning of the words of the clauses, and the verbs carrying the action forward. In circular logic, the premise is equivalent to the conclusion. If I understand you correctly, your premise is that a narrative verb must either be grammaticalized past tense or perfective, and therefore, your conclusion is that because Genesis 2:19 is a part of a narrative, the WAYYIQTOLs must be grammaticalized past tense or perfective. I do not start with such a premise, but I say that a narrative verb per definition has past reference, but it needs not be grammaticalized past tense or perfective; the example I gave was the 41 infinitive absolutes in the Karatepe inscription, 16 of which have a prefixe
 d WAW. So, I worked to find the real nature of the WAYYIQTOLs with the help of the parameters deictic center, event time, and reference time, without starting with a premise that was equivalent to the conclusion, and without knowing what the conclusion would be.

So, I leave it to the members of b-greek to judge where the circular reasoning is.

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli

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