Question on Lexical Aspect

Exploring Albert Rijksbaron's book, The Syntax and Semantics of the Verb in Classical Greek: An Introduction, to see how it would need to be adapted for Koine Greek. Much of the focus will be on finding Koine examples to illustrate the same points Rijksbaron illustrates with Classical examples, and places where Koine Greek diverges from Classical Greek.
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Michael Sharpnack
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Question on Lexical Aspect

Post by Michael Sharpnack » June 6th, 2017, 5:57 pm

I'm having a bit of a hard time fully grasping the idea of lexical aspect in Rijksbaron.

He seems to give two categories of verbs: 1. stative (unbounded, durative, atelic); "the state of affairs does not have an inherent endpoint", and 2. telic (terminative, bounded); the state of affairs has an inherent endpoint. For 1, he uses the example of βασιλευω, for 2, διδωμι and πειθω.

He then refers to these ideas through the rest of the book, talking about how tense interacts with the lexical aspect to create different effects.

First question, can all verbs be classified as either telic or atelic? In some of the other threads, some of you mention other categories, does that mean a verb can be neither telic nor atelic, but something else?

Next question, how exactly would you define "inherent endpoint"? With διδωμι, I guess once you give something to someone, the action has ended, there's no more giving, but with βασιλευω, ruling can occur indefinitely; it's just something you do. Is that what he means by "inherent endpoint" the action can stop? However, when I say "διδωμι τοις πτωχοις" it can mean (I think) giving to the poor is just something I do, same idea as "I rule over the poor", it doesn't have to end.

What am I missing here?

MAubrey
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Re: Question on Lexical Aspect

Post by MAubrey » June 6th, 2017, 7:39 pm

Michael Sharpnack wrote:
June 6th, 2017, 5:57 pm
First question, can all verbs be classified as either telic or atelic? In some of the other threads, some of you mention other categories, does that mean a verb can be neither telic nor atelic, but something else?
All vers can be classified as telic or atelic, yes. Other categories that you might see us talking about combine telicity with other factors lie: duration (presented as duration or presented as instantaneous), dynamicity (static vs. dynamic), etc.
Michael Sharpnack wrote:
June 6th, 2017, 5:57 pm
Next question, how exactly would you define "inherent endpoint"? With διδωμι, I guess once you give something to someone, the action has ended, there's no more giving, but with βασιλευω, ruling can occur indefinitely; it's just something you do. Is that what he means by "inherent endpoint" the action can stop? However, when I say "διδωμι τοις πτωχοις" it can mean (I think) giving to the poor is just something I do, same idea as "I rule over the poor", it doesn't have to end.
Indeed. When δίδωμι refer to a generic or habitual activity, then it is no longer telic. Protoypically, the verb is telic, but you can use other factor in the clause to manipulate the telicity of a predicate.

Similarly:
Rachel ate an entire pizza (telic).
Rachel ate pizza twice a week (atelic).
Dave walked to the park (telic).
Dave walked in the park (atelic).

Telicity is more a feature of clauses/predicates/propositions than it is of individual lexical items.
Mike Aubrey, Linguist
Koine-Greek.com

Michael Sharpnack
Posts: 31
Joined: February 2nd, 2017, 5:13 pm
Location: Nashville

Re: Question on Lexical Aspect

Post by Michael Sharpnack » June 6th, 2017, 9:36 pm

MAubrey wrote:
June 6th, 2017, 7:39 pm
Michael Sharpnack wrote:
June 6th, 2017, 5:57 pm
First question, can all verbs be classified as either telic or atelic? In some of the other threads, some of you mention other categories, does that mean a verb can be neither telic nor atelic, but something else?
All vers can be classified as telic or atelic, yes. Other categories that you might see us talking about combine telicity with other factors lie: duration (presented as duration or presented as instantaneous), dynamicity (static vs. dynamic), etc.
Michael Sharpnack wrote:
June 6th, 2017, 5:57 pm
Next question, how exactly would you define "inherent endpoint"? With διδωμι, I guess once you give something to someone, the action has ended, there's no more giving, but with βασιλευω, ruling can occur indefinitely; it's just something you do. Is that what he means by "inherent endpoint" the action can stop? However, when I say "διδωμι τοις πτωχοις" it can mean (I think) giving to the poor is just something I do, same idea as "I rule over the poor", it doesn't have to end.
Indeed. When δίδωμι refer to a generic or habitual activity, then it is no longer telic. Protoypically, the verb is telic, but you can use other factor in the clause to manipulate the telicity of a predicate.

Similarly:
Rachel ate an entire pizza (telic).
Rachel ate pizza twice a week (atelic).
Dave walked to the park (telic).
Dave walked in the park (atelic).

Telicity is more a feature of clauses/predicates/propositions than it is of individual lexical items.
Ok, thank you, that cleared some things up for me.

So, a verbs telicity can be manipulated by the context. So if I said, "I will rule until tomorrow" would that be a telic use of βασιλευω?

That does lead me to another question. What defines the prototypical telicity of a verb? Or another way to ask it, is there some kind of test to determine it?

I ask because it seems to have important implications further in the book. For example, he explains that the "conative" use of the imperfect, and the ingressive use of the aorist are primarily determined by whether a verb is telic or not. He says that the imperfect of Πειθω almost always has a "conative" use: "I was trying to persuade". So knowing it's inherent value seems to be important for understanding.

RandallButh
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Re: Question on Lexical Aspect

Post by RandallButh » June 7th, 2017, 4:08 am

That does lead me to another question. What defines the prototypical telicity of a verb? Or another way to ask it, is there some kind of test to determine it?
The simple test is to ask if there is a basic way to conceive of completion for the verb.

"He built a house" "He will build a house" "He was building a house."

The verb 'build' is prototypically telic with an object, although the last example above is 'imperfective' and does not include the end point or start point within is view.

On the other hand "She walked in the park" does not have a natural way of conceiving completion, other than stopping the time and stopping the action. So, while "She walked in the park" is perfective (the activity has ended, the end point is included within view), a notion of 'completely walking in the park' is irrelevant and the activity was not inherently relic. Likewise, a 'partial walk in the park' doesn't make sense without specially defining some kind of 'walk in the park'. So: She walked a mile (telic), she walked (atelic).

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