RE: Attention aspect geeks

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Wed Apr 09 1997 - 08:32:19 EDT

Rolf Furuli (
Wed, 09 Apr 1997 13:03:51 +0000

> Don`s examples from medicine about the need to consult
> experts are valid. However, I will apply them differently:
> We cannot fully understand the subtleties of Greek aspect
> except by applying the principles of modern linguistics.

When I talk to my doctor, I need to have a full enough
understanding of what the doctor thinks is happening that
I can give informed consent. The doctor has to address my
questions, and present me with a model I can comprehend.
Except in emergency medicine, I make the decision, not
the doctor, but I lean on the doctor's knowledge and
wisdom. I also do that with Greek grammars like Smyth
and Robertson, and I also do that with the people here
on B-Greek who *really* know Greek, since I am still a
relative beginner. Even when I get really good at Greek,
I'm going to need to validate my opinions by seeing what
other really good people think

Actually, I do think it is possible to understand the subtleties
of aspect *intuitively* without modern linguistics; the problem
is that it is difficult to convey that understanding to others.
I think that I fully understood most of the subtleties
of English before I was ever exposed to linguistics. I think that
people like Smyth and Robertson really *did* understand the
subtleties quite well. However, I don't think that they had
a simple, consistent model which is easily explained. Actually,
I think that Smyth had a simple, inconsistent model which is
easily explained - when I started reading Smyth, I found that
I could really understand the traditional view for the first

> Different languages classify phenomena differently, but there can be
> no doubt that there are many similarities between aspectual
> languages which we can profit much from by studying. (By
> the way, what is the fastest way to get a copy of Mari`s
> book?)

I don't think her thesis has been published yet, but it is in
the process of being published. She compares examples from
many languages, including Koine Greek, English, French, and

I got my copy of her thesis by posting a message to B-Greek,
asking if anybody had a copy they could send me. Mari wrote
it in a UNIX format I can't read, so you might want to try
asking here first.

> Hebrew is an aspectual language...

I found this interesting, but I really can't comment, since
I know almost no Hebrew, and I would need more concrete
examples to be able to get a better feel for this. Alas,
the depth that I need would probably be more appropriate
on B-Hebrew, but I haven't the bandwidth for another language
or another list!


Jonathan Robie
POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703
Ph: 919.598.5728 Fax: 919.598.6728
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