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Tense: Biblical Hebrew

(2,367 words)

Author(s): Hatav, Galia
Tense is an inflectional category whose basic role is to locate the ‘event-time’ (i.e., the time at which the event occurs or the state obtains) with respect to the ‘speech-time’ (the time at which the sentence is uttered), such that the present-, past-, and future-tense locate the event-time at a point earlier than, equal to, or later than the speech-time, respectively. While this analysis of tense in absolute terms accounts for most simple sentences, it has been shown to be inadequate for tenses in subordinate clauses, which do not necessarily locate th…

Gnomic Perfect

(581 words)

Author(s): Hatav, Galia
The term ‘gnomic perfect’ has been used in the literature to refer to the use of the Biblical Hebrew (BH) qaṭal verb form in what has been characterized as ‘general truths’ or ‘gnomic statements’. The sentences Two and two make four and Too much water drowned the miller (from Rogland 2003:22) illustrate such statements in English. The gnomic perfect is found in the BH poetry, as illustrated in כִּ֤י לֹֽא־עָזַ֖בְתָּ דֹרְשֶׁ֣יךָ יְהוָֽה kī lō-ʿå̄zaḇtå̄ ḏōršεḵå̄ YHWH ‘For you have never abandoned those who seek you, O Lord’ (Ps. 9.11), but it is more common in proverbs and p…

Verb Phrase

(1,925 words)

Author(s): Hatav, Galia
In the Generative Grammar framework (first introduced in Chomsky 1957), a phrase is a syntactic unit composed of at least one constituent defining its type. A phrase may consist only of that constituent, which is considered to be its head, or include other constituents as well. A verb phrase, or VP, which is usually the predicate of the sentence, is headed by a verb, with which other constituents may be combined. The latter are classified into complements, which are usually obligatory, and adjuncts, which are always optional. Traditionally, verbs have been classified as transitive or intr…