The aorist = unmarked aspect

From: Edward Hobbs (
Date: Thu Oct 05 1995 - 20:03:05 EDT

      As one who has served his sentence for writing overmuch on Greek tenses
many times over, may I write in (almost) total support of Bruce Terry's post
on the aorist. (The "almost" means that I am not a Prague school linguist,
but a committed transformational-generative, or Chomskyan, grammarian.) But
in any case, the issue of the aorist has been pretty well settled, I thought,
It turns out to be just what the grammarians 2000 years ago called it --
"unmarked" or undefined. The indicative marks tenses (augment, etc.).
Other moods do not, and the aorist is plainly the unmarked "tense"
(read, correctly, "aspect").

   I was raised on the "punctiliar" notion, having drunk deeply of the well of
the comparative-historical philology school of the late-19th and early 20th
centuries. But Bruce is on the mark. (On this I'm not altogether an amateur,
being one of few members of the list who have published Greek grammars and
trained Ph.D.'s in Greek linguistics.) The problem is that almost all of the
grammars are somewhat out-of-date on this issue (including my own, which is
only 18 years old).

        Aoristically yours,

Edward Hobbs

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