Does Hebrew have tense and aspect?

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R.J. Furuli
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:51 am

Does Hebrew have tense and aspect?

Postby R.J. Furuli » Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:17 am

This is an important subject different from the previous thread, so I start a new one.

Dear Rolf:

Jeg var glad ā se dit navn igjen.

You may be right that “aspect” has been defined in many different ways. At this time, I don’t know what is your definition. The definition that I use is from the SIL website, http://www.glossary.sil.org/term/aspect

Aspect
Definition:
Aspect is a grammatical category associated with verbs that expresses a temporal view of the event or state expressed by the verb.
Discussion:
Aspect is often indicated by verbal affixes or auxiliary verbs.
Kinds:
Imperfective Aspect
Perfective Aspect
Cessative Aspect
Inchoative Aspect


Biblical Hebrew conjugation has zero relation to any time views, neither tense nor aspect as defined at SIL.At the same time, I agree with you that except for indicative and subjunctive, the moods are also not like English moods. Apparently you call those differences from English “aspect” while I call them “moods, but different moods than found in English.” We may need new terminology.

R.J. Furuli wrote:Hi, Karl. it has been a long time since we had a discussion of hebrew. But it is good to see that you still are on the list. I disagree with you that the Hebrew conjugations represent mood. But I agree that proverbs 31:11-31 is a very good place to start one's study on Hebrew aspect.


Best regards,

Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway


We agree that Biblical Hebrew grammar is sufficiently different from English that it is difficult to use the same grammar terminology as is used in English and Indo-European languages. I use SIL as my grammar reference, but SIL doesn’t describe what I see in Biblical Hebrew grammar.

Karl W. Randolph.


Dear Karl,

The SIL definition of aspect is correct. But it is so general that it tells us virtually nothing. For example, what does the phrase "temporal view" mean? Tense also expresses a "temporal view." So what is the difference? I looked at the SIL page, and in my view, it creates utter confusion. The definitions conflates semantic and pragmatic terms, as well as aktionsart and aspect. Aspect is a subjective portrayal of a part of an action from a particular point of view, while aktionsart is the objective contents of an action. For example, durativity, dynamicity, and telicity are aktionsarts, and these are uncancellable—they always will be a part of a verb regardless of grammar and form. This means that they represent semantic meaning. Pragmatic facors are based on the context, and they are changeable. I dispute the claim that English simple past represents the perfective aspect; simple past is a tense and not an aspect. I would say that perfect expresses the perfective aspect in English and the present participle expresses the imperfective aspect. But English aspects are very different for Hebrew asepcts.

In order to avoid redundancy and subjective choices as much as possible I uses three basic parameters to define tense and aspect and the differences between them. These are "event time" (ET),"reference time" (RT), and the "deictic center" (C). The deictic center is the point from which an event is seen. Often the deictic center is speech time. but it can also be a point in the past or the future. The term "event time" refers to the time of an action from beginning to end. When we speak, we do not make visible the whole event time, but we only make visible a part of it. This part that we point to or make visible is reference time. Example 1) makes visible a part of the action after the beginning and before the end. This is the imperfective aspect in English. Example 2) makes visible the end of the reading event. This is the perfective aspect in English. But again, Hebrew aspects are different compared with the English ones.

1) Peter was reading the newspaper.

2) Peter has read the newspaper.

Now we have the parameters and can make some definitions. Both tense and aspect expresses time, but in different ways. Tense represents deictic time—time that is seen in relation to a deictic center, while aspect represents non-deictic time—time that is not seen in relation to a deictic center. The problem in many languages with aspects is that a time is often combined with the aspect because it is required to give meaning, and therefore it is difficult for a person to ascertain an aspect as totally free of deictic time. Past, present, and future are connected with the imperfective aspect in 1), 3), and 4). Example 5) represents the imperfective aspect in a non-deictic setting. But it has no meaning.

3) Peter is reading the newspaper.

4) Peter will be reading the newspaper.

5) *Peter reading the newspaper.

I will now proceed with the definition of tense and aspect based on the three parpameters.

Tense is the relationship between reference time and the deictic center. When the tense is past, RT comes before C, when it is future, C comes before RT, and when the reference is present, C= coincides with RT.

Past tense: RT>C
Present reference (present is not a tense): RT=C
Furure tense: C>RT

Tense is connected with a verb form, and because there is no verb form in Hebrew that has a uniform temporal reference, tense does not exist in Hebrew.

I will return to aspect, which is a relationship between refernce time (RT) and event time (ET). Aspect means that reference time (RT) intersects (ET) and makes visible a certain part of ET— even a part before ET (conative) or after ET (resultative) can be made visible. Because aspect is a kind of focus, In my dissertation I use three parameters related to focus to describe the intersection of ET by RT, 1) the breadth of the focus—how large an area or ET is made visible, 2) the quality of the focus—is RT seen, as if close by with details visible, or, as if at a distance with details not visible, and 3) the angle of the focus related to a point in the middle of ET.

The imperfective and perfective aspects in Hebrew make a part of an action visible in different ways. Based on the mentioned papameters, my dissertaion shows that the imperfective aspcet portrays six different relationships between ET and RT, and the perfective aspect portrays four other different relationships between ET and RT. All these ten relationships are aspectual, and therefore Hebrew is a language with aspects.

It was H. Reichenbach who coined the parameters "event time" and "reference time": "Elements of Symbolic Logic" (1947). A very fine book that scrupulously distinguish between semantic and pragmatic factors, and use the parameters C, ET, and RT is; "M. Broman Olsen, "A Semantic and Pragmatic Model of Lexical and Grammatical Aspect." (1997). It deals with aspects in English and Greek, and it teaches in an excellent way how to distinguish between tense and aspect.

Best regards,


Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway

kwrandolph
Posts: 892
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: Does Hebrew have tense and aspect?

Postby kwrandolph » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:42 pm

Dear Rolf:

At one point in discussions, we had a person from SIL give further explanation of their grammatical descriptions.

First of all in this discussion, both tense and aspect are time references.

Tense is where on the time line from past to future the action is found.

Aspect refers to what type of time to which is referred: finished, unfinished, repeated, continuous, starting, etc.

Further, in order for either tense or aspect to be recognized in grammar, a language must have specific forms that always indicate those actions. Apart from those specific forms, a language is not considered to have that grammaticalization.

The above is the expanded understanding of SIL grammar as explained by a SIL representative on this list.

As far as I can tell, Biblical Hebrew doesn’t grammaticalize for any time measurement, neither tense nor aspect. Both Qatal and Yiqtol are used for all tenses and aspects, therefore they aren’t grammaticalizations for any.

English, on the other hand, grammaticalizes for both tense and aspect. That means that from the form of the verb one can tell the when of the action, and of what type of action. Looking at your examples:

R.J. Furuli wrote:1) Peter was reading the newspaper.


From the forms of the verb used, tense is past, aspect is imperfective.

R.J. Furuli wrote:2) Peter has read the newspaper.


From the forms of the verb, tense is past, aspect is perfective, as it refers to completed action.

Concepts such as deictic center, reference time and event time are not grammar, rather are defined by contexts other than grammar. English grammar has a rather involved set of tense markers, but they are recognizable by their forms.

R.J. Furuli wrote:3) Peter is reading the newspaper.


Present tense, imperfective aspect.

R.J. Furuli wrote:4) Peter will be reading the newspaper.


Future tense, imperfective aspect.

R.J. Furuli wrote:5) *Peter reading the newspaper.


Standing alone, this is not a proper English sentence. Here we have a noun with a gerund in an adjectival phrase “reading the newspaper” where “reading” is an adjective, not a verb.

This is not a claim that concepts such as deictic center, event time and reference time are unimportant. They are important to the understanding of a document. All I say is that they are not grammar. The definition at SIL is grammar.

R.J. Furuli wrote:I will return to aspect, which is a relationship between refernce time (RT) and event time (ET). Aspect means that reference time (RT) intersects (ET) and makes visible a certain part of ET— even a part before ET (conative) or after ET (resultative) can be made visible. Because aspect is a kind of focus, In my dissertation I use three parameters related to focus to describe the intersection of ET by RT, 1) the breadth of the focus—how large an area or ET is made visible, 2) the quality of the focus—is RT seen, as if close by with details visible, or, as if at a distance with details not visible, and 3) the angle of the focus related to a point in the middle of ET.

The imperfective and perfective aspects in Hebrew make a part of an action visible in different ways. Based on the mentioned papameters, my dissertaion shows that the imperfective aspcet portrays six different relationships between ET and RT, and the perfective aspect portrays four other different relationships between ET and RT. All these ten relationships are aspectual, and therefore Hebrew is a language with aspects.

It was H. Reichenbach who coined the parameters "event time" and "reference time": "Elements of Symbolic Logic" (1947). A very fine book that scrupulously distinguish between semantic and pragmatic factors, and use the parameters C, ET, and RT is; "M. Broman Olsen, "A Semantic and Pragmatic Model of Lexical and Grammatical Aspect." (1997). It deals with aspects in English and Greek, and it teaches in an excellent way how to distinguish between tense and aspect.

Best regards,


Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway


You definition of “aspect” doesn’t refer to grammar or how a language grammaticalizes action. When I say “Biblical Hebrew grammaticalizes for neither tense nor aspect,” my reference is to the ways languages grammaticalize these concepts of time. The SIL definition also refers to grammaticalization of time.

It’s confusing that the term “aspect” here is used for two different concepts within linguistic understanding. One reference is to semantic understanding, the other to a grammatical concept.

Karl W. Randolph.

R.J. Furuli
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:51 am

Re: Does Hebrew have tense and aspect?

Postby R.J. Furuli » Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:01 am

Dear Karl,

In order to keep the discussion focused, I will comment on the following that you wrote:

Dear Rolf:

At one point in discussions, we had a person from SIL give further explanation of their grammatical descriptions.

First of all in this discussion, both tense and aspect are time references.

KWR Tense is where on the time line from past to future the action is found.

RJF: Agree.

KWR: Aspect refers to what type of time to which is referred: finished, unfinished, repeated, continuous, starting, etc.

RJF: No, no, no! This SIL definition is a conflation of subjective and objective factors. In my view it is completley misleading. Whether an action is finished or unfinished is shown by the aktionsart of the verb and the context—both being objective properties. Hebrew aspect has nothing to do with the ideas finished/unfinished. However, in English the perfective aspect (perfect) shows that an action is completed. A continuous action is shown by the aktionsart of the verb, which is an objective property. Take for example the word שִׁ֔יר (sing). It has a durative and dynamic (= change) aktionsart. Regardless of the Hebrew conjugation that is used, infinitive, or participle, the aktionsart never change. To sing always includes action that continues and changes. Aspect has nothing to do with the continuous nature of שִׁ֔יר.

Aspect is a subjective property. The objective side of an action is portrayed by its aktionsart and the context. However, when we speak or write, we make visible for the listener or reader a part of an action—sometimes the whole action without details or a small part of the action with details visible. This is the choice of the author, and this subjective choice is the aspect.

The perfective and the imperfective aspects in Hebrew are different, and the combination of the aspect + aktionsart. or aspect + the context, or aspect + a knowledge of the world, or the aspect + aktionsart + the context, can signal different situations. First I use two English examples. The interpretation of 1) is that Ann was on the point of reaching the peak. The basis for this interpretation is that the participle in English signals continuous action, yet the peak is definite and singular; and to reach it is an instantaneous action. The combination of these two signals "on the point of reaching." The participle in 2) signals continuous action, "the peaks" are definite, but they are plural. So, the interpretation must be that Ann was reaching peak after peak.

1) Ann was reaching the peak.

2) Ann was reaching the peaks.

3) Tim knocked at the door.

4) Tim was knocking at the door.

5) Tim knocked at the door for ten seconds.

Example 3) is simple past. The action may be that Tim knocked one time, or he knocked repeatedly. Both are possible with simple past. Example 4) has past reference + the imperfective aspect, and the aktionsart is instantaneous. This signals repeated or iterative action. Example 5) shows that it is possible to portray iterative action without the use of the imperfective aspect.

Thus, to use the words "repated" (iterative) and "starting" (ingressive) as definitions of aspects is completely misleading.


KWR: Further, in order for either tense or aspect to be recognized in grammar, a language must have specific forms that always indicate those actions. Apart from those specific forms, a language is not considered to have that grammaticalization.

RJF: Exactly! Hebrew has no verb form (conjugation) that always refers to the past or the furure. Therefore Classical Hebrew does not have tenses. However, the prefix-forms uniformely express the imperfective aspect, and the suffix-forms uniformely express the perfective aspect. I argue in my dissertation that imperfect, imperfect conjunctive, and imperfect consecutive are imperfective, and that perfect and perfect consecutive are perfective.

KWR; The above is the expanded understanding of SIL grammar as explained by a SIL representative on this list.

As far as I can tell, Biblical Hebrew doesn’t grammaticalize for any time measurement, neither tense nor aspect. Both Qatal and Yiqtol are used for all tenses and aspects, therefore they aren’t grammaticalizations for any.

RJF: If my analysis above is correct, it means that the Hebrew prefix forms grammaticalize the imperfective aspect and the suffix forms grammaticaluze the perfective aspect.


KWR: English, on the other hand, grammaticalizes for both tense and aspect. That means that from the form of the verb one can tell the when of the action, and of what type of action.

I agree. But the nature of the aspects in Hebrew are very different from the English aspects. The nature of aspect is not universal, but it is language-specific. For example, in new Testament Greek, I analyze future as future tense, imperfect as a combination of past tense and the imperfective aspect. Further I analyze present as the imperfective aspect without any tense, and aorist as the perfective aspect without any tense.

Please note my claim that the widespread use of aorist with past reference is not based on the intrinsic nature of the aorist, but on the combination of perfectivity and the context—aorist is also used with present and future references. And the widespread use of imperfect consecutive with past reference is not based on its intrinsic nature, but on the linguistic convention of its widespread use in narratives. (Narratives per definition require past reference). Imperfect consecutive is also use with present and future reference.


Best regards,


Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway

kwrandolph
Posts: 892
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: Does Hebrew have tense and aspect?

Postby kwrandolph » Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:17 pm

R.J. Furuli wrote:Dear Karl,

In order to keep the discussion focused, I will comment on the following that you wrote:

KWR: Aspect refers to what type of time to which is referred: finished, unfinished, repeated, continuous, starting, etc.

RJF: No, no, no! This SIL definition is a conflation of subjective and objective factors.


Here’s where I have to say “No, no, no!” because whether or not a specific and regular form exists to express aspect is merely objective. The various aspects referenced are how a time is handled—is it continuous, periodic, finished, one time, etc.—those are all aspects of time measurement.

What’s subjective about referring to a one time action as being perfective aspect‏?

R.J. Furuli wrote:In my view it is completley misleading. Whether an action is finished or unfinished is shown by the aktionsart of the verb and the context—both being objective properties. Hebrew aspect has nothing to do with the ideas finished/unfinished. However, in English the perfective aspect (perfect) shows that an action is completed. A continuous action is shown by the aktionsart of the verb, which is an objective property. Take for example the word שִׁ֔יר (sing). It has a durative and dynamic (= change) aktionsart. Regardless of the Hebrew conjugation that is used, infinitive, or participle, the aktionsart never change. To sing always includes action that continues and changes. Aspect has nothing to do with the continuous nature of שִׁ֔יר.


“Jack sang a song in the school play” “sang” is past tense, perfective aspect because the action is finished, not to be repeated. Like “to sing”, most actions have a duration, a duration that is irrelevant when recognizing aspect.

“Jack was reading the newspaper when Jill entered the room” “was reading” is imperfective aspect because it was a continuing action (that may still be happening).

However:

“Jack stopped reading the newspaper when Jill entered the room” can be called either cessative or perfective aspect, or both, because the action stops and is completed. The duration of the reading is irrelevant to whether or not the action has stopped and is finished.

R.J. Furuli wrote:Aspect is a subjective property.


Not in grammar. The SIL definition refers to grammar. Is there a verbal form in Biblical Hebrew that consistently refers to the imperfective aspect? The answer is “no”. Both Qatal and Yiqtol refer to both perfective and imperfective aspect (measures of time) depending on contexts.

R.J. Furuli wrote:The objective side of an action is portrayed by its aktionsart and the context. However, when we speak or write, we make visible for the listener or reader a part of an action—sometimes the whole action without details or a small part of the action with details visible. This is the choice of the author, and this subjective choice is the aspect.


But this subjective action is not grammar.

R.J. Furuli wrote:The perfective and the imperfective aspects in Hebrew are different, and the combination of the aspect + aktionsart. or aspect + the context, or aspect + a knowledge of the world, or the aspect + aktionsart + the context, can signal different situations. First I use two English examples. The interpretation of 1) is that Ann was on the point of reaching the peak. The basis for this interpretation is that the participle in English signals continuous action,


The participle alone in insufficient for that in English, the verb “was” is necessary to convey continuous action.

R.J. Furuli wrote:yet the peak is definite and singular; and to reach it is an instantaneous action. The combination of these two signals "on the point of reaching." The participle in 2) signals continuous action, "the peaks" are definite, but they are plural. So, the interpretation must be that Ann was reaching peak after peak.

1) Ann was reaching the peak.

2) Ann was reaching the peaks.

3) Tim knocked at the door.

4) Tim was knocking at the door.

5) Tim knocked at the door for ten seconds.

Example 3) is simple past. The action may be that Tim knocked one time, or he knocked repeatedly. Both are possible with simple past. Example 4) has past reference + the imperfective aspect, and the aktionsart is instantaneous. This signals repeated or iterative action. Example 5) shows that it is possible to portray iterative action without the use of the imperfective aspect.


Example #5 is perfective aspect for two reasons: 1) the form of the verb is perfective, indicating a finished action, and 2) the time listed, “ten seconds”, indicates that the action has stopped, it is a finished action, perfective aspect.

R.J. Furuli wrote:Thus, to use the words "repated" (iterative) and "starting" (ingressive) as definitions of aspects is completely misleading.


Those are measures of time different from tense. and in so far as aspect is a measure of time, they are aspect.

R.J. Furuli wrote:KWR: Further, in order for either tense or aspect to be recognized in grammar, a language must have specific forms that always indicate those actions. Apart from those specific forms, a language is not considered to have that grammaticalization.

RJF: Exactly! Hebrew has no verb form (conjugation) that always refers to the past or the furure. Therefore Classical Hebrew does not have tenses. However, the prefix-forms uniformely express the imperfective aspect, and the suffix-forms uniformely express the perfective aspect. I argue in my dissertation that imperfect, imperfect conjunctive, and imperfect consecutive are imperfective, and that perfect and perfect consecutive are perfective.


I have seen definitions for “aspect” in grammar from several different sources and languages, and they all agree with the SIL definition, except for your definition.

Let’s refer back to Proverbs 31:11–31, all the verbs there refer to present, continuous action. According to the SIL definition of “aspect”, both Qatals and Yiqtols express imperfective aspect. Reading through the rest of Tanakh, there are many examples of Yiqtols referring to perfective aspect, and many examples of Qatals referring to imperfective aspect.

Having said this, there are definite patterns of verbal use that indicate when to use a Qatal and when to use a Yiqtol, but they are not time-based as is the grammatical definition of “aspect”. Are these the differences of use that you are calling “aspect”? I call those differences “moods” while recognizing that most of those moods differ from English moods, do you suggest that we coin a new word for those differences?

R.J. Furuli wrote:KWR: English, on the other hand, grammaticalizes for both tense and aspect. That means that from the form of the verb one can tell the when of the action, and of what type of action.


I should amend the last part of the above sentence to read “and of the time duration of the action.”

R.J. Furuli wrote:I agree. But the nature of the aspects in Hebrew are very different from the English aspects.


Your definition for “aspect” is not only different from English use, but also from every other language I have studied that has aspect.

I’m not an expert on New Testament Greek, except to note that there’s a good reason is’s called koiné.

R.J. Furuli wrote:Best regards,


Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway


In closing, it appears that your use of the term “aspect” is idiosyncratic. That doesn’t mean that it’s false, just that it causes confusion and misunderstanding to use the same term that’s widely used elsewhere to refer to a different concept.

The reason I never use “past” & “future”, nor “perfect” & “imperfect” to refer to Qatal and Yiqtol forms, is because those terms are widely used elsewhere to refer to ideas not carried by Biblical Hebrew conjugations. Likewise, wouldn’t it be better to use a different term than “aspect” for your definition?

Yours, Karl W. Randolph.

R.J. Furuli
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Re: Does Hebrew have tense and aspect?

Postby R.J. Furuli » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:59 am

Dear Karl,

Thank you for all your efforts in order to explain your position. I have stated my position, so you get the last word.

Best regards,

Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway

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Jason Hare
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Re: Does Hebrew have tense and aspect?

Postby Jason Hare » Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:28 am

Could you suggest a good place to begin reading on aspekt and tense in Hebrew (or even more generally)? Something that can be read online? Maybe I missed it above.
Jason Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel

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Re: Does Hebrew have tense and aspect?

Postby Jason Hare » Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:30 am

R.J. Furuli wrote:This is an important subject different from the previous thread, so I start a new one.

Dear Rolf:

Jeg var glad ā se dit navn igjen.

You may be right that “aspect” has been defined in many different ways. At this time, I don’t know what is your definition. The definition that I use is from the SIL website, http://www.glossary.sil.org/term/aspect

Aspect
Definition:
Aspect is a grammatical category associated with verbs that expresses a temporal view of the event or state expressed by the verb.
Discussion:
Aspect is often indicated by verbal affixes or auxiliary verbs.
Kinds:
Imperfective Aspect
Perfective Aspect
Cessative Aspect
Inchoative Aspect


Biblical Hebrew conjugation has zero relation to any time views, neither tense nor aspect as defined at SIL.At the same time, I agree with you that except for indicative and subjunctive, the moods are also not like English moods. Apparently you call those differences from English “aspect” while I call them “moods, but different moods than found in English.” We may need new terminology.

R.J. Furuli wrote:Hi, Karl. it has been a long time since we had a discussion of hebrew. But it is good to see that you still are on the list. I disagree with you that the Hebrew conjugations represent mood. But I agree that proverbs 31:11-31 is a very good place to start one's study on Hebrew aspect.


Best regards,

Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway


We agree that Biblical Hebrew grammar is sufficiently different from English that it is difficult to use the same grammar terminology as is used in English and Indo-European languages. I use SIL as my grammar reference, but SIL doesn’t describe what I see in Biblical Hebrew grammar.

Karl W. Randolph.


Dear Karl,

The SIL definition of aspect is correct. But it is so general that it tells us virtually nothing. For example, what does the phrase "temporal view" mean? Tense also expresses a "temporal view." So what is the difference? I looked at the SIL page, and in my view, it creates utter confusion. The definitions conflates semantic and pragmatic terms, as well as aktionsart and aspect. Aspect is a subjective portrayal of a part of an action from a particular point of view, while aktionsart is the objective contents of an action. For example, durativity, dynamicity, and telicity are aktionsarts, and these are uncancellable—they always will be a part of a verb regardless of grammar and form. This means that they represent semantic meaning. Pragmatic facors are based on the context, and they are changeable. I dispute the claim that English simple past represents the perfective aspect; simple past is a tense and not an aspect. I would say that perfect expresses the perfective aspect in English and the present participle expresses the imperfective aspect. But English aspects are very different for Hebrew asepcts.

In order to avoid redundancy and subjective choices as much as possible I uses three basic parameters to define tense and aspect and the differences between them. These are "event time" (ET),"reference time" (RT), and the "deictic center" (C). The deictic center is the point from which an event is seen. Often the deictic center is speech time. but it can also be a point in the past or the future. The term "event time" refers to the time of an action from beginning to end. When we speak, we do not make visible the whole event time, but we only make visible a part of it. This part that we point to or make visible is reference time. Example 1) makes visible a part of the action after the beginning and before the end. This is the imperfective aspect in English. Example 2) makes visible the end of the reading event. This is the perfective aspect in English. But again, Hebrew aspects are different compared with the English ones.

1) Peter was reading the newspaper.

2) Peter has read the newspaper.

Now we have the parameters and can make some definitions. Both tense and aspect expresses time, but in different ways. Tense represents deictic time—time that is seen in relation to a deictic center, while aspect represents non-deictic time—time that is not seen in relation to a deictic center. The problem in many languages with aspects is that a time is often combined with the aspect because it is required to give meaning, and therefore it is difficult for a person to ascertain an aspect as totally free of deictic time. Past, present, and future are connected with the imperfective aspect in 1), 3), and 4). Example 5) represents the imperfective aspect in a non-deictic setting. But it has no meaning.

3) Peter is reading the newspaper.

4) Peter will be reading the newspaper.

5) *Peter reading the newspaper.

I will now proceed with the definition of tense and aspect based on the three parpameters.

Tense is the relationship between reference time and the deictic center. When the tense is past, RT comes before C, when it is future, C comes before RT, and when the reference is present, C= coincides with RT.

Past tense: RT>C
Present reference (present is not a tense): RT=C
Furure tense: C>RT

Tense is connected with a verb form, and because there is no verb form in Hebrew that has a uniform temporal reference, tense does not exist in Hebrew.

I will return to aspect, which is a relationship between refernce time (RT) and event time (ET). Aspect means that reference time (RT) intersects (ET) and makes visible a certain part of ET— even a part before ET (conative) or after ET (resultative) can be made visible. Because aspect is a kind of focus, In my dissertation I use three parameters related to focus to describe the intersection of ET by RT, 1) the breadth of the focus—how large an area or ET is made visible, 2) the quality of the focus—is RT seen, as if close by with details visible, or, as if at a distance with details not visible, and 3) the angle of the focus related to a point in the middle of ET.

The imperfective and perfective aspects in Hebrew make a part of an action visible in different ways. Based on the mentioned papameters, my dissertaion shows that the imperfective aspcet portrays six different relationships between ET and RT, and the perfective aspect portrays four other different relationships between ET and RT. All these ten relationships are aspectual, and therefore Hebrew is a language with aspects.

It was H. Reichenbach who coined the parameters "event time" and "reference time": "Elements of Symbolic Logic" (1947). A very fine book that scrupulously distinguish between semantic and pragmatic factors, and use the parameters C, ET, and RT is; "M. Broman Olsen, "A Semantic and Pragmatic Model of Lexical and Grammatical Aspect." (1997). It deals with aspects in English and Greek, and it teaches in an excellent way how to distinguish between tense and aspect.

Best regards,


Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway


I wish you'd used QUOTE tags here. I don't know who is writing what and who's responding to what. Do you think you could clean it up so that we might all be able to consider and respond?
Jason Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel

R.J. Furuli
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:51 am

Re: Does Hebrew have tense and aspect?

Postby R.J. Furuli » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:49 am

Dear Jason,

I just learned how to use quotes, and I will use that in the future.

In the middle of the post you see "Karl W. Randolph." Below that you see "Dear Karl," Everything below these words represent my presentation of how I understand tense and aspect, with particular reference to Classical Hebrew.


Best regards,

Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway.


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