[b-hebrew] text on the BH verb structure

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Sat Aug 31 06:51:21 EDT 2013

Dear Dave:

On Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 11:41 AM, Dave Washburn <davidlwashburn at gmail.com>wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 11:20 AM, K Randolph <kwrandolph at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Nir:
>> In other words, TAM is undefined.
>> In physics, an Amp is an Amp no matter where it’s found—whether measure
>> in micro-amps on a chip, to kilo-amps for big power. It doesn’t matter
>> whether we’re dealing with analog or digital, the biggest limitation to our
>> accuracy is the accuracy of the instruments we use to measure amps.
>> If I understand you correctly, each language has its own version of TAM,
>> and the version that fits one language doesn’t fit another. Therefore, TAM
>> is undefined. And an undefined term is useless.
>> I confess I'm still playing catch-up on this thread, but I have to
> comment here, because this is an improper comparison. In physics we're
> essentially dealing with inanimate materials that follow certain definable
> patterns. In language, we're dealing with the enigma of the human mind. Our
> thought processes don't follow any kind of predictable patterns. Since
> languages grow out of the human mind, it stands to reason that a language
> that develops in a certain region will follow different patterns than one
> that develops elsewhere. The first will have a TAM that fits it, and the
> second will have a different TAM that fits the way it is built. This is why
> mathematics is only of limited value in linguistic investigation.

Within physics, there’s a certain amount of cross-over between electronics
and hydrodynamics in the way they deal with wave theory, but also
dissimilarity with the ways they deal with wave theory. What is not a
question is the definition of wave theory. Just slight differences in

The question before us here is the definition of TAM. For example, both
modern Hebrew and modern English have tense based conjugations. In both
cases, “tense” refers to a time referent conjugation. How each language
implements its tense based conjugations differs, but that doesn’t change
the definition of “tense”, hence the “T” in TAM.

On the other hand, what I find in Tanakh is that both Qatal and Yiqtol are
used for the same time reference, even within the same sentences. Therefore
they don’t have a time reference. Therefore the “T” in TAM doesn’t apply to
Biblical Hebrew.

The same sort of analysis indicates that Biblical Hebrew also didn’t
conjugate for aspect, hence the “A” in TAM also doesn’t apply.

What I find is that subjunctive modality seems to be exclusively in Yiqtol,
imperative in Yiqtol and waw-prefixed Qatal but so far I’ve not found it in
non-waw-prefixed Qatal, but both are used for indicative and other
modalities, therefore Biblical Hebrew doesn’t conjugate for mood either.
Because both conjugations can refer to the same modalities, therefore “M”
in TAM also doesn’t apply.

The story that I seem to be getting here in b-hebrew is that if TAM doesn’t
fit a particular language, then redefine TAM until it does fit? So when the
conjugation within a language doesn’t have a time reference, what then does
“T” refer to? Does it stand for anything? The same with “A”? If you
redefine all the words, what happens to communication about the language?

A final note: I got into reading Tanakh in Hebrew because of the KJV. What
killed the KJV as far as my use was concerned was not the archaic terns
that had dropped out of use, rather those terms that had been updated to
different meanings, but don’t give a clue that they’ve changed. So the same
way with TAM—if the meanings from one language to another are incompatible,
doesn’t that destroy communications?

> --
> Dave Washburn
> Check out my Internet show: http://www.irvingszoo.com
> Now available: a novel about King Josiah!
> Karl W. Randolph.
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