Re: Greek TMA, II

From: Vincent DeCaen (
Date: Mon Oct 23 1995 - 09:58:45 EDT

> > > 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?
> This seems quite different to me. First person jumping back and forth is
> part of how we know it is a dialogue. It jumps back and forth because
> there is more than one person. But what does it mean for C to keep
> shifting?

ahh. now we're getting into cognition and narrative. for one thing,
there are several *different* uses, and we have to keep those
separate. there is moving the whole time line around (historical
present, eg.): here it seems that vivid narration is the key. ever
listen to teens talk about the day at school? complete present tense
(I wouldn't argue, BTW, that teens speak tenseless registers of
English). the other major use is the "tense mixing" and this is more
interesting. but it's quite normal. I just read the autobiography of
Feyerabend and it's curious how the mixing is so natural: you'd miss
it if you weren't looking for it. he used the past for the narrative
time line, and the present for any background that extended beyond the
narrow narrative frame. this is quite systematic but I don't intend to
publish a paper on this phenomenon in one text. I would say that these
two major uses are what we find in Hebrew narrative (at least Samuel-Kings).

 Can the time of utterance change within an utterance? Personal
> dexis can shift when there is more than one person. Under what conditions
> is there more than one point of reference for time?

there is a mountain of lit on English poetics that discusses this
stuff. I barely cited a couple of these papers in my dissertation. but
the project is there if it interests anyone.

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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