Questions about verbal aspect

From: Kenneth Litwak (
Date: Sun Oct 15 1995 - 23:01:56 EDT

   I'm slooowwwly working my way through Porter's _Idioms_, and he makes much
of the significance of verbal aspect as opposed to categories invented
by earlier grammarians, like historical present, gnomic present, etc.
Yet, when he comes to a present used for narration (what I'd call an
historical present), he translates it the same way I would. So I don't see
what significance his distinction or critique has in this case. How is an
historical present different from a prsent tense with a verbal aspect such that
it is translated with a past referent? I think, in fact, that my profs should
be critiquing students in my seminar who translate this construction as
present tense, which happens a lot, given that we are in Mark all the time.

Ken Litwak
Bezerkley, CA

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