Re: FYI Hebrew not tenseless, II

From: Vincent DeCaen (
Date: Tue Oct 24 1995 - 07:46:13 EDT

> I sent out a recent post referring to Hebrew as practically
> tenseless before I read my mail. When I opened my e-mail folder, your
> post caught my eye right away. You say Hebrew is not tenseless, but you
> haven't given any instances to show that tense can be a factor in Hebrew.
> I'm supposing you have some in mind.
> David L. Moore Southeastern Spanish District

I think the burden of proof, BTW, is to show that tense is not a
factor in Hebrew. the original position was that Biblical Hebrew was
like medieval Hebrew (only somewhat true): a functioning tense system.
the case against this position is what I've been trying to undermine
for the last 5 years. it's a piece of cake.

I don't want to rehearse my doctoral thesis on line, but it should be
available by interlibrary loan soon, and in any case will go to press
in 1996. "On the Placement and Interpretation of the Verb in Standard
Biblical Hebrew Prose." U of Toronto 1995.

cf. for Arabic John C. Eisele 1988 "The Syntax and Semantics of Tense,
Aspect, and Time Reference in Cairene Arabic" U of Chicago Ph.D.
available through interlibr loan.
Abdelkader Fassi Fehri "Issues in the Structure of Arabic Clauses and
Words" 1993 Dordrecht, esp ch 4.

it depends what you want, and of course this is *not* the Hebrew list.
since there are a 101 theories of the Hebrew verbal system, it would
take a while to take them all apart. it would take equally as long to
argue for Hebrew's tense system. the major strawman of course is the
Slavic perfectivity analysis, and I deal with that in my SBL paper this year.
the actual position in the 1800s is anteriority, and it's flawed for
pretty much the same reasons. I could make that available, but that's
going to a journal editor in a much revised form by December.

Vincent DeCaen

Near Eastern Studies, University of Toronto
Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University

I really do not know that anything has ever been
more exciting than diagraming sentences.
                                 --Gertrude Stein

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:30 EDT