'default' aorist

Mari Broman Olsen (molsen@umiacs.umd.edu)
Thu, 24 Oct 1996 10:38:55 -0400 (EDT)

Somi Chuhon asks:

Just wondering if anyone has made a good read through Stan Porter's
_Idioms of the Greek New Testament_. I am still adjusting to this
notion of "verbal aspect" and am still trying to come to some
conclusions as to how well this "interpretive-grid" fits the text.

What are your thoughts on the aorist tense as the "default" tense? I
agree that perhaps the aorist HAS been "abused" in the past as the
article, "The Abused Aorist" has argued...but does making it the
default tense fix the difficulties??

I agree that it is sometimes difficult to figure out how the category
of aspect fits into interpretation. It helps if you recognize
"default" as a linguistic term of art (going back to the Prague
School, at least, in the early part of this centurey) for "unmarked".
THat is, the aorist, Porter argues, is the form used when one doesn't
want to say anything "marked", i.e. special.

Mari Broman Olsen
Research Associate

University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies
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