Fw: Re: Foregrounding/Backgrounding and Porter

Bruce Terry (terry@bible.ACU.edu)
Thu, 16 May 1996 16:20:18 CST

I'm forwarding to the list Micheal Palmer's post which is obviously written
for the list, but which came only to me. It is always good to hear from
Micheal; we have missed his informative posts this year.

Bruce Terry E-MAIL: terry@bible.acu.edu
Box 8426, ACU Station Phone: 915/674-3759
Abilene, Texas 79699 Fax: 915/674-3769

----------------------Forwarded Message-----------------------------------

From: MX%"bla00161@mail.wvnet.edu"
To: MX%"terry@bible.acu.edu"
Subj: Re: Foregrounding/Backgrounding and Porter

Return-Path: <bla00161@WVNVM.WVNET.EDU>
Date: Tue, 14 May 1996 23:48:16 -0500
To: Bruce Terry <terry@bible.acu.edu>
From: bla00161@mail.wvnet.edu (Micheal Palmer)
Subject: Re: Foregrounding/Backgrounding and Porter

On 5/14/96 Bruce Terry wrote:

>Rod, I am a little surprised at Porter's terminology. In all the linguistic
>works I have read on the subject, foreground refers to the material that is of
>primary importance and background to that which is of secondary importance.
>In a narrative text, this means the storyline would be foregrounded and the
>setting backgrounded. Also, in Greek narrative, the aorist is typically used
>on the storyline (except at peak, when the present is used) and the present,
>imperfect, and occasionally the pluperfect are used to present background
>information. But note that which tenses are foregrounded and backgrounded
>depends on the texttype. In expository text, present tense is foregrounded
>and aorist tense (which is often used for illustrative material) is often

I agree with Bruce here. His use of the term 'foreground' is more in
keeping with most of what I have read on the subject than Porter's. Of
course, I have none of my books here right now to give specific information
about who uses the term which way, but I think Bruce's use of the term is
pretty standard.

Micheal W. Palmer
Assistant Professor
Greek and New Testament
Bluefield College