The pragmatics of the 'tenses' in biblical Hebrew
Baayen, R. H.
The pragmatics of the 'tenses' in biblical Hebrew. Studies in Language, 21
(2), 245-285. doi:10.1075/sl.21.2.02baa.
In this paper, I present an analysis of the so-called tense forms of Biblical Hebrew. While there is fairly broad consensus on the interpretation of the yiqtol tense form, the interpretation of the qdtal tense form has led to considerable controversy. I will argue that the qātal form has no intrinsic semantic value and that it serves a pragmatic function only, namely, signaling to the hearer that the event or state expressed by the verb cannot be tightly integrated into the discourse representation of the hearer, given the speaker's estimate of their common ground.