View Full Version : Identifying Hebrew stative verbs in Bibleworks?

10-28-2008, 07:40 PM
Is there anyway of confirming my identification of a Hebrew verb functioning as a stative in Bibleworks?
I searched 'stative' in the help file and the forums and came up with absolutely no hits.
I'm still very new to Hebrew, but surely from the vowel changes this is something that Bibleworks can identify definitively?

Ben Spackman
10-29-2008, 09:05 AM
You could run a search for qal 3ms perfect verbs with a sere or holem in the second syllable.

However, this would probably miss some verbs, since not every stative verb may exist in that form, and statives with a gutteral may not have patach instead.

I think that's the best you can do.

David Kummerow
10-29-2008, 07:55 PM
That's a nice question and one that highlights the current limitations in our databases.

First, some preliminaries to frame an answer. Semantically, there are different types of predication which to varying degrees are represented formally in the grammar of a language. The three main types of predication are: object predication, property predication, and action predication. Object predication is the predication of an object, typically a noun, and typically called the predicate nominative, eg "Bill is a teacher." Property predication is the predication of a property, typically an adjective (if the language has a class of morphologically distinct adjectives), and typically called a predicate adjective, eg "Bill is sad." Action predication is predication of an action/event, which is the typically domain of verbs. In other words, predication is the default construal of verbs, but is not so for nouns and adjectives. A noun's default construal is reference and an adjective's is modification.

Now, these semantic realities play themselves out in the grammar of language. When the verbal system of a language codes for aspect and not tense, separarate adjectival encoding is not used. Rather, property predication takes the verbal encoding of the language, ie the semantic classes of states, attributes, etc code like verbs -- either exactly like verbs, or as a subset of the verbal encoding ("stative verbs"). Because "time" is not inherent to an aspectual verbal system, the verbal encoding is used to predicate -- since predication is the default domain of verbs -- not just actions/events but also states, attributes, etc. However, once the verbal system of a language begins to designate tense, a switch is made in property predication where the object predication encoding begins to be used in favour of verbal encoding. Because "time" begins to feature in the verbal system and the semantic classes of states, attributes, etc. are inherently sensitive to time, the encoding strategy which semantically is closer to that begins to be used -- nouns being typically time-stable but verbs not so, so adjectives start to take nominal encoding.

Just these things may be seen in BH: there is a restricted group of stative verbs, but an open class of adjectives which code like nouns. In other words, BH is moving to a tensed verbal system where states, attributes, properties, etc. are being encoded less and less like verbs and more and more like nouns.

This does not give you the answer to identify stative verbs, but does provide something of a framework for thinking about stative verbs and their function within the language. Unfortunately, the semantic class of verbs is not tagged within our current databases: all verbs, whether from the sematic class of actions/events or states/attributes, are just tagged simply as verbs. Like Ben says, your best chances of searching for stative verbs, in the absence of being able to search on that tagging per se, is to search on the known morphological distinctives of stative verbs.

Stassen, Leon. 1997. Intransitive Predication. Oxford Studies in Typology and Linguistic Theory. Oxford: Clarendon.

Stassen, Leon. 2005. “Predicate Adjectives.” Pages 478-481 in The World Atlas of Language Structures. Edited by Martin Haspelmath, Matthew S. Dryer, David Gil, and Bernard Comrie. Oxford: Oxford University Press.