Re: Aktionsart/Aspect/Lexis

From: Rod Decker (
Date: Tue Mar 17 1998 - 17:03:56 EST

I (Rod) once said:

>>I think that "aoristic present" is an *Aktionsart* category, not an
>>aspectual one. Arguments for such a creature always point to the nature of
>>the action so described--and that is *not* what aspect is all about--but
>>that IS what Aktionsart is intended to describe.

To which Dale replied:

>Wow... Rod, I think you lost me *BIG TIME* here !!
>Here's what I *really* think about the present (which is pretty much what
>Fanning said in his discussion of the 1John3 passages in his book)...
>My own personal feeling is that in general the present *is not* durative
>by nature, but rather it is aoristic in the sense of being undefined...
>ie., it just gets out of the way and lets the Aktionsart of the verb
>do its thing. When Greek speakers want to indicate durativeness...
>Is that what you were referring to above, or are we really talking
>past each other here because of the use of terminology in different
>ways ?

I agree that the present is not durative by nature. As you point out,
durativity is an Aktionsart category that is more closely related to lexis
and context. As both Fanning and Porter say--each in a slightly different
way--is that the present semantically encodes/grammaticalizes imperfective
(Porter) / internal (Fanning) aspect. This is essence views the situation
as a process--but that is not the same as saying it is a durative
action--obvious from the fact that the *same* action can be described as
either imperfective or perfective; e.g., I am/was eating vs. I eat/ate. The
reason why a writer uses a particular aspect may not always be obvious to
us (i.e., we may not be able to make "exegetical hay" out of it). Assuming
that aspect is a "more objective" description of the actual action confuses
aspect with Aktionsart.


 Rodney J. Decker Baptist Bible Seminary
 Asst. Prof./NT P O Box 800 Clarks Summit PA 18411

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