Greek TMA, II

From: Vincent DeCaen (
Date: Sat Oct 21 1995 - 21:05:42 EDT

> I would be most interested in your reasons for not accepting future tense
> for KG.

cross-linguistically there is no strong evidence of a "future" tense.
usually, the so-called futures are subject to decomposition into mood
and/or nonpast tense and/or perfective aspect. e.g., English future is
a) will/would (mood + tense) + verb, or b) going to (aspect + mood [to]).
e.g., French future is the infinitive (mood) plus enclitic of avoir
(tense). I could go on ad nauseam.

the point about systems like Greek that select Mari's perfective
privative is that their "futures" are typically nonpast + perfective.
this includes the Slavic systems, Hungarian, Georgian, even Mofu Gudur
in the Cameroon. there may be other constructions, but that is
something else. so the perfective stem in Russian of "write" prochitay
+ nonpast endings prochitayu "I write(pf)": generally considered a
"future" though it has other uses as a "present", and also in the
"historical present" as the perfective counterpart of the imperfective.

is it a coincidence that in the synchronic system of NTGrk the
"aorist" stem (perfective) with nonpast endings gives the future?? I
'm inclined to doubt it.

luoo "I loose/am loosing" lusoo "I will loose"

> > one of the reasons Hebrew and Japanese are considered "tenseless" is
> > their ability to jump around the time line. but clearly this is
> > narrative stylistics, and not in itself a warrant to deny past/nonpast
> > for these systems (they're just better at exploiting deixis for
> > narrative effects).
> Then you DO think that C can change constantly from one sentence to the
> next? This seems to take away the helpfulness of identifying a C at all.

not really. does it take away from personal deixis that the first
person jumps back and forth in dialogue? these categories are well
established, who would deny them?

if the semantics demand deixis around C, then so be it. it matters not
to the grammar that C can shift: that's the point of Mari's
pragmatics-semantics separation ("radical pragmatics" in one useful
tag, Cole I believe).

If you want to look at how a language with freer shifting works, try
to find Soga's "Tense and Aspect in Modern Colloquial Japanese" 1983,
esp the appendix on narrative stylistics.

I claim the model for Standard Biblical Hebrew prose in my 1995 dissertation.
there is also the question of Semitic stylistics and TMA interfering
in Greek, but I wouldn't touch that one with a ten-foot pole ;-)
> Philip Graber Graduate Division of Religion

Vincent DeCaen

Near Eastern Studies, University of Toronto
Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University

I really do not know that anything has ever been
more exciting than diagraming sentences.
                                 --Gertrude Stein

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