Re: Verbal aspect pardigm shift

On Mon, 24 Oct 1994 Dvdmoore@aol.com wrote:

>  *Second*, the paradigm shift of the early part of this century (?) from the
> eight-case system to the five-case system was a shift from function
> (functionally there are about eight cases) to form.  With what Porter and
> Fanning are proposing the pendulum of change seems to be swinging back away
> from form to the function end of the spectrum.  With Porter's wanting to
> jettison all grammatization of time reference, I wonder if he's not proposing
> that the pendulum swing back too far.  

I'm not so sure about this. The eight-case system was not so much based on
function as it was on imposing the form of another language on Greek (and
English, etc.) even though those languages do NOT formally have eight
cases (it must be demonstrated that they really have eight FUNCTIONALLY). 
Without having closely studied Porter (and having read even less of
Fanning), my impression is that we do not have a swing back toward a
functional extreme, but the continuation of a movement based on the
commitment to the idea that form and function are inextricably bound up
with one another. It is not acceptable to create ad hoc lists of functions
without being able to demonstrate that those functions are in fact
realized formally in the language. This does not mean that every function
must be realized by a unique form, but it does obligate the analyst (in
Halliday's systemic terms) to try and identify what systems of choices
were available to the producers of the texts being analyzed that are
together realized in just the forms we see before us. In other words, we
can never assume (before beginning an analysis--or maybe any time) that
the forms before us are arbitrary, and realize no configuration of
functions (as for example in such extreme examples as: "Word order in
Greek is arbitrary," or "The passivized form of this active sentence is
another way of saying the same thing."). 

Philip Graber
Emory University