[b-hebrew] text on the BH verb structure

Kimmo Huovila kimmo.huovila at kolumbus.fi
Sat Aug 31 12:08:04 EDT 2013

It is not so much that semantic aspect, tense, and mood are poorly defined, but grammatical categories of aspect, tense, and mood need not be exactly the same as the semantic definitions. If there is sufficient overlap, then we can call the form aspect, tense, or mood. Often the grammatical categories are intertwined with respect to the semantic ones.

To give an English illustration, the traditional past tense (as a grammatical category) does not correspond exactly to the semantic past tense, as expressed by the fact that present-referring counterfactual conditionals use the past tense. There is no trouble defining pastness, it's just that pastness does not correspond 100 % with the past tense as a grammatical category. There is significant overlap, though, justifying calling the form past tense. Thus "*I went there tomorrow" is not right.

Perhaps Hebrew should be approached the same way, except that there are less grammatical categories used to code TAM, so we should expect tense, aspect, and mood to be even more intertwined.

Kimmo Huovila

On Sat, 31 Aug 2013 03:51:21 -0700
K Randolph <kwrandolph at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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?

> So the same
> way with TAM—if the meanings from one language to another are incompatible,
> doesn’t that destroy communications?

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