Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

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.
Stephen Nelson
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Stephen Nelson » August 7th, 2019, 4:50 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 5:14 am
Stephen Nelson wrote:
August 6th, 2019, 7:49 pm
RandallButh wrote:
August 6th, 2019, 1:07 pm

PS: the ancients also rejected the theory, preemptively. The ancient grammarians were the ones who came up with the temporal definitions of indicative time, on their own, and as mother-tongue speakers.
A citation to that sources would be amazing, if available. Thanks!
See here for a discussion of one of them: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... php?t=2369
Thanks. Yes, that had citations, including a reference to Aristotle (On interpretation III, 6), which was neat:

Ῥῆμα δέ ἐστι τὸ προσσημαῖνον χρόνον, οὗ μέρος οὐδὲν σημαίνει χωρίς, καὶ ἔστιν ἀεὶ τῶν καθ’ ἑτέρου λεγομένων σημεῖον….

https://www.loebclassics.com/view/arist ... 25.119.xml
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RandallButh
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by RandallButh » August 8th, 2019, 11:07 am

Zero stream? The one or two classicists I know that are aware of the discussion are actively hostile to the proposition, and I'm in total agreement with them. My first thought when exposed to the theory (actually from discussions on B-Greek) was "They've got to be kidding! Have they actually read any Greek?" That is not an a-typical reaction of classicists when exposed to Biblical scholarship, because they all too often see people doing things with the language that nobody else ever does.
Yes, that qualifies as "zero stream", that is "not having a following worth mentioning", as opposed to "main stream", which would either be a majority position or a recognized viable position. "Aspect-only" would rate as "zero stream" among classical Greek scholars and I'm glad to see Barry agree wholeheartedly.
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Stephen Nelson » August 9th, 2019, 12:15 pm

Perhaps someone could help me answer one more question.

I keep hearing Constantine Campbell and others repeatedly reference a statistic about verbs in the aorist, without substantiation as to what the data are based on -

Paraphrasing: "Aorist indicatives refer to the past 85% of the time."
And, by correlation, I hear the opposite claimed - "Aorist indicatives refer to non-past events 15% of the time."

Does anyone know what dataset these percentages are based on? What's the sample size (i.e. does it include Epic Greek, the LXX, the Gospels, the Epistles, Revelation, other Hellenistic literature, non-literary papyri)? Or is this only based on the New Testament?

Obviously, the statistic would vary greatly depending on the kind of texts selected...
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Daniel Semler
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Daniel Semler » August 9th, 2019, 12:55 pm

Stephen Nelson wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 12:15 pm
Perhaps someone could help me answer one more question.

I keep hearing Constantine Campbell and others repeatedly reference a statistic about verbs in the aorist, without substantiation as to what the data are based on -

Paraphrasing: "Aorist indicatives refer to the past 85% of the time."
And, by correlation, I hear the opposite claimed - "Aorist indicatives refer to non-past events 15% of the time."

Does anyone know what dataset these percentages are based on? What's the sample size (i.e. does it include Epic Greek, the LXX, the Gospels, the Epistles, Revelation, other Hellenistic literature, non-literary papyri)? Or is this only based on the New Testament?

Obviously, the statistic would vary greatly depending on the kind of texts selected...
This might help you track it down https://www.jstor.org/stable/826908?seq ... b_contents
It refers to this paper by Carson https://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/ ... debate.pdf
When Porter is charged with too forcefully stressing the subjective nature of the choice in tense-form made by the speaker or writer, he could develop at greater length than he has the kinds of factors (lexical, temporal, social and others) that might prompt the speaker to opt for one particular form. For instance, [bold]the fact that perhaps 85 per cent of finite aorists in the indicative are past-referring[/bold] might owe a fair bit to the intrinsic likelihood that an action in the past will be presented as a 'complete' action: the speaker's or writer's choice of tense-forms (grammaticalizing aspects), theoretically as open-ended as the forms available, may be sharply constrained, or at least reduced within definable probabilities, by the pragmatics.
Bold mine. And this quote rings a bell, so I've read it before I guess.

But I don't see on a quick scan where Carson get's that number either. Perhaps his references there will help.
I wouldn't be surprised if it's in Porter's Verbal Aspect - I'll have to check later. But I agree that it's a bit annoying when such little "factoids", if so, are dropped without reference or support. Sometimes they are simply considered well known unnecessary of repeating the original source, until someone unfamiliar with the background happens upon it and then ooooops... It would be nice to know ...

A quick run through aorists in the parts of the NT ought to at least lend credence to the statement or not, though, as the case may be.

Thx
D
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Stephen Nelson
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Stephen Nelson » August 14th, 2019, 2:53 pm

Sorry, I think I may be abusing this forum by prolonging this closed discussion. But I'd like to ask more questions, in case anyone is still following this... So far the feedback has been very helpful.

Another reference that I keep encountering is to the fact that there exist other 'tenseless' languages (besides Greek), which reportedly do not semantically encode temporal reference in their verbal systems at all. I suppose these are "purely aspecual" languages?

What language(s) exactly are being referred to? Are they Indo-European? Are they in any way releated to the Hellenic language branch? What's their relevance for comparison to Greek?

In the end of Campbell's book, he seems to draw the comparison in reference to a study on Aboriginal Australian languages. But I'm not sure how that's relevant...

He also states the following in regards to the supposed trend of languages to transition from "a spacial way of thinking to a temporal way of thinking":
Such is the case with Greek. Most scholars would agree that the verbal system of Greek was originally spatial, back in its earliest stages of development. And, of course, the Greek verbal system is now temporal - Modern Greek has tenses. The question, however, is this: When did the verbal system cease to be primarily spatial and develop its temporal characteristics? While most scholars see the verbal system as consisting of tenses as early as Homeric Greek, and certainly by the time of Attic Greek, I have argued that the verbal system is still primarily spatial at this time and indeed continues to be so through the Koine period.

There is, nevertheless, evidence that the development from spatial to temporal meaning is taking place by this time. For example, the existence of the future tense-form, which is a real tense, is the first verb form that has a consistent temporal reference. It is a genuine tense, with its core meaning concerned with the expression of time. The existence of a real tense alongside other verb forms that are not regarded as tenses at the semantic level does not constitute a problem for my analysis, nor is it inconsistent. It is no accident that the only real tense within the indicative mood is also the last of the ancient tense-forms to develop. It is thus evidence that the shift from spatial to temporal encoding is taking place in the diachronic development of the language. Eventually, the entire indicative system will consist of tenses, and the future tense is the first exponent of this situation.
There doesn't seem to be a citation for the above. Is this baseless speculation? Is it question-begging conjecture? If the invention of the future tense-form marks the beginning of the transition from spacial to temporal reference, and Modern Greek marks the end point as being fully temporal (even though Modern Greek is largely aspectual), how would he determine that further development of tense in the indicative mood (i.e. in the aorist indicative) only made headway AFTER the Hellenistic period?

I assume that when someone throws around the phrase, "Most scholars believe X...", the name(s) of at least one or two scholars could be tracked down to shore up the position. I'd really like to read some more on this diachronic development of tense in Greek. But I'm kind of stuck without a citation or bibliography in Campbell's book.
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » August 14th, 2019, 5:29 pm

After reading chapter 23 "Tenselessness" by Jo-Wang Lin in The Oxford Handbook of Tense And Aspect (ed. Binnick) I became (even more) convinced that Koine isn't tenseless. I don't remember the details anymore, I should re-read it with time (sorry for the pun). There are names of languages there which you probably have never heard of. Well known languages which are tenseless are Biblical Hebrew and Quranic Arabic (p. 671) and Chinese (used as the main example because it has received a detailed tenseless analysis in literature, p. 671). Others mentioned are for example Yukatek Maya, Guarani, Blackfoot, Algonquian languages, Kalaallisut and Baffin Island Inuktitut. (On the other hand St'át'imcets looks like tenseless superficially but may be tensed after all because of possible null tense morpheme; see p. 686 if you happen to have fetish for exotic language names.)

Aspect is indeed important in tenseless languages.

Based on what I read I came to a conclusion that Koine may be less tensed than many other languages because it's more aspectual - as everyone nowadays agree - but not tenseless. As usual for much of NT Greek "linguistics", real linguistic discussion feels like another world compared to what you can see in NT circles.

Campbell's argument about spaciality in Koine isn't convincing at all. I think it's his own novelty, even if most scholars would agree with him about the origins of the tense in Greek (I don't know anything about that).

As far as I can see one of the main points of the aspect-only school is that time is expressed in other ways than in morphemes: in adverbs, contextual hints etc. The weakness of this reasoning should be evident. You could analyze any language that way and say it's tenseless. Requirements are very different in the above mentioned chapter in TOHOTAA. Actually it explicitly says:
In other words, a tensed language requires the presence of a morpheme that locates a situation in time whether or not similar temporal information is conveyed by other temporal expressions. (p. 670)
That's what Koine does. If it were tenseless we could drop off the present, aorist etc. morphemes, or actually they wouldn't exist. And by the way, here we can see how NT shcolars may use the terms used in linguistics very differently than how real linguists use them. Even if Koine was "tensless" as Campbell defines it (i.e. time is metaphoric interpretation of space), it's not tenseless in linguistic sense.
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RandallButh
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by RandallButh » August 14th, 2019, 5:47 pm

Almost all scholars do NOT think that the Greek verb was originally spatial.
The sentence that was quoted: "Most scholars would agree that the verbal system of Greek was originally spatial" is linguistic gobbledygook.

More to the point---what in the world does a "spatial verb" mean? Verbs relate to a framework whose parameters are time, mood, and aspect, not space.
Space when applied to verbs ("the time was before this, more distant") is a metaphor, and typically it is a metaphor for time. Thus, Campbell's statement is an example of a scholar being entrapped by one's own metaphors.
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » August 14th, 2019, 6:54 pm

"Remoteness" is another term which Campbell uses with different meaning than linguists. There's also a chapter in TOHOTAA which speaks about remoteness and tense, but it's remoteness in time.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » August 14th, 2019, 7:05 pm

-what in the world does a "spatial verb" mean?
This thread is somewhat hard to follow. It's like hearing a discussion between people from different galaxies all speaking Esperanto. There was a time roughly 20 years ago when I thought aspect was comprehensible. Recent discussion doesn't support that hypothesis.
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Re: Aorist indicative with future temporal reference

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » August 15th, 2019, 2:07 am

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 7:05 pm
There was a time roughly 20 years ago when I thought aspect was comprehensible. Recent discussion doesn't support that hypothesis.
What in this thread makes you feel so? After all, we are talking about tense, not aspect.
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