Schubert wrote: kwrandolph wrote:
S_Walch wrote:With regards to 'passive'; no, stative is not just another term for passive, like in the following example:
War erupted in 1939.
'Erupted' is a dynamic usage of the passive ; it is not 'stative' as it indicates action or change; in the above example the 'change' was going from non-war, to war.
I agree that here the passive indicates a dynamic change.
Yes, it is dynamic. In this case a stative version of this would be in my mind, War has erupted.
This would describe a state. i.e. We are now at war. Although, this is the natural effect of a Present Perfect. Present Perfect is an amazing tool for English speakers. You simply cannot convey this in say French. (Don't know, but suspect other Latin languages are the same).
What no one so far has done is to give a clear definition as to how to recognize a stative with examples that back it up..... This suggests to me that the whole idea of a stative verb is not clear, and that in different languages refers to different actions.
Preliminary attempt at a definition: not active, not passive. I'll elaborate later. For now I'll briefly say this:
S1 I set the statue on the porch.
S2 The statue was set on the porch by me.
S3 The statue now sits on the porch.
Not active, not passive.
S4 He was consumed by worms.
S5 He was consumed with rage.
S6 He was eaten up with worms.
This suggests to me that the whole idea of a stative verb is not clear, and that in different languages refers to different actions.
A guarded yes. Take an example from Swahili:
Swahili uses suffixes to convey the passive, the causative, and the stative.
Take the verb kula
, to eat.
Active— ni (1P Subject Agreement Marker) na (cont pres infix) kula --> ninakula. (Hope everyone can stand Swahili 101).
Causative— ni-na-li (vowel change and dropped ku- inf) -sha (Caus Suf) --> ninalisha, I am causing to eat, I am feeding
Passive— i (it) - na - li - wa (pass suf) --> inakuliwa, it is eaten (by someone), more precisely it is being eaten ...
Stative— i - na - kuli - ka (stative suf) --> inakulika, it is eaten, i.e. it is edible
Another use of the stative in Swahili is in the movement verbs toka
, leave and fika
, arrive. In the mind of a Swahili speaker the following construction conveys a state. Nimefika
, I have arrived. Nimetoka
, I have left. These constructions are not concerned with the dynamic part of the leaving or arriving, but with the state of having arrived/left.
kwrandolph wrote:As for Biblical Hebrew, if what I noticed is accurate, the Piel and Pual are used for imperfective aspect. For possessives, there’s no verbal use at all, so “I have two sisters” comes out as לי שתי אחות. Does that not suggest that perhaps the whole idea of stative verbs in Biblical Hebrew is an invention of modern grammarians? That what they call “stative verbs” are in reality no more than adjectives?
Several of Karl's comments provide a useful jumping off point for comments I've been thinking about making.
I agree with Karl's comment that there are real difficulties in defining what is a stative verb, apart from saying simply that it describes a state.
Yes, I prefer to say state-like
. It's fuzzier, just like language.
A good example of this difficulty is Steve's example about playing a guitar:
I play the guitar = 'play' is a stative state - I'm not currently in the midst of playing the guitar, but I do play the guitar.
I am playing the guitar = 'playing' is most certainly dynamic, as it indicates a progressive action.
When I say that I play the piano, I am very much thinking about the physical and mental action of playing. I am not merely describing the state that I'm not currently in the midst of playing but that I do play.
Problem is, I as a hearer would not, unless you added context to the phrase. We used this phrase because without context it's a good example of how a verb that is otherwise active can with usage be stative. So sure if you told your story in a way that I could feel that what you were saying was dynamic, then it would
be dynamic. But if you use it to mean, I am a piano player
, or I know how to play the piano
, or I am able to play
; all these are stative notions, and can be expressed by the phrase I play the piano.
The notion of stativeness is not fuzzy. It's the usage of language that is fuzzy, and requires context and agreement between speaker and hearer.
Schubert wrote:I believe part of the difficulty is that what is in the mind of the speaker/writer cannot necessarily be conveyed in the words and syntax of a sentence such as "I play the piano". So it could perhaps be merely a state that I am able to play the piano or it may be a much more active statement that I do physically play the piano. (Or to use another example, is "I am very much thinking about..." stative, and "I think about..." dynamic/active?)
I would agree with this. A kind of variegated stativeness. Categories as well as a cline of more or less stative.
Schubert wrote:What about the example: The sun shines. From one perspective, "shines" is a very dynamic and active verb. From another perspective, I suppose it could be viewed as describing the state of shining.
See, this is why I love linguistics. A shining moment in the discussion. haha
Schubert wrote:As an aside, it was interesting to see in a table in one of the earlier posts setting out examples in English, Swedish and German that the stative examples were all intransitive verbs – not transitive verbs with direct objects. It would be tempting, although I believe incorrect, merely to say that the "modern" category of stative verbs is really the category of intransitive verbs with a new name tag.
I think a verb that is semantically stative would tend to be intransitive. But as we have seen you can take a transitive active verb, and in the right context make the whole phrase stative. Idioms do this often: that takes the cake
. Native speakers are sovereign over language.
Schubert wrote:This takes me to another point. Much of the discussion in this thread has dealt with trying to identify what is a stative verb. This raises, however, the question what is the purpose of identifying stative verbs within the context of Biblical Hebrew. Other than recognizing that the vowel pointing varies from the norm in a relatively small number of verbs which describe states, is there any other purpose? I ask this question sincerely as there are others with much more expertise in BH than I have.
It is important, because it effects how a translator understands certain causative constructions. In a past discussion I pointed out a particular root was stative, and as a hiphil it meant cause to be ... I think it was kaved
, to be heavy. As a hiphil it meant cause to be heavy. As a hophal it would be to be caused to be heavy. The passive of a causative of a stative root. This idea a stativeness is at the heart of understanding the nuances in the God-Moses-Pharaoh narrative. In the narrative we find several synonyms for harden/stiffen, moreover we find the author using actives, passives, statives, and causatives (including hophal, passive causative). What he is doing through his choice of phrasing is difficult to ascertain.