Re: Porter on the present

From: David Moore (
Date: Wed Oct 25 1995 - 00:34:14 EDT

"Philip L. Graber" <> quoted and wrote:

>> Faulty exegesis, may I point out, can grow out of
>> any false conception related to the grammar of a language.
>This is certainly true. However, a conception that allows for a
>substantial number of exceptions is a setup for errors--how does one know
>whether any given case is an exception or not? This lends itself to
>arbitrary and subjective judgments, the kind of thing you rightly stated
>we all want to avoid.

        I don't think we want to get into a "Is not!" "Is so!" type of
argument on this. I just want to say that, in something like grammar,
simplification is good only to the extent that precision is not lost. As
with the fellow who, for the first time saw a schematic drawing of the
Power PC chip and said, "This would be a lot easier to understand if it
were simpler."

        Even in terms of aspects of the respective forms, there are
exceptions. So, there must be other considerations besides avoiding
exceptions that should guide us in deciding under what system to talk
about grammar. Mari, in a recent post, quoted Roman Jakobson to the
effect that we should not admit a meaning for a form simply because it is
statistically predominant when that meaning is not essential to the form.
This may be so, but I wonder if the temporal augment in the indicative is
not just such an essential marker. Philip has said that its introduction
to Greek as a temporal marker doesn't mean it should be taken as such now.
Nevertheless, the 85% past temporal reference for the aorist cited by Mari
from Porter and Carson apparently indicates that it normally retains its
past sense at least in the aorist, and upon looking at the other tenses
with the augment, it would not surprise me to find that their sense is
also statistically mainly past. If this does not constitute an essential
link with past time for these inflected forms, then at least I would think
the burden of proof should be with those who deny that there is a link to
the augment's original meaning.

        If the augment normally marks past time, then it is logical that
the unaugmented, indicative forms would be influenced, being unmarked for
past and also being non-future. But whether the unaugmented indicative's
often serving for present time could be called "essential" is another


David L. Moore Southeastern Spanish District
Miami, Florida of the Assemblies of God Department of Education

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