Re: Fundamentally flawed? (Aktionsart/Aspect/Lexis)

From: Dale M. Wheeler (
Date: Thu Mar 19 1998 - 12:39:21 EST

George Blaisdell wrote:
>Dr. Wheeler Outlines:
><no change> <change>
> / \
> / \
> ACTIVITIES<--->Performances
> <unbounded> <bounded>
> / \
> / \
> ACCOMPLISHMENTS<--->Achievements
> <durative> <non-durative>
> / \
> / \
> <prefaced> <non-prefaced>
>This whole topic has my head spinning. Aktionsart was not a catagory
>of instruction when I studied Greek 25 years ago. So in simple
>English, I would like to try to exemplify this outline using the verb
>'to run'.
>STATE ~ I AM a runner.
>ACTIVITY ~ I am a person who engages in the activity of RUNNING.
>[...who RUNS. ??]
>PERFORMANCE ~ I RAN that race.
>ACCOMPLISHMENT ~ I have been RUNNING that race for years.
>ACHIEVEMENT ~ I RAN that race yesterday.
>Dr. Wheeler, would you please correct and complete this
>exemplification for me? I am totally stuck in the mud here. I am not
>getting this at all...
>Thank-you for your help.


I wasn't taught this either some 25 years ago...(-;

The way Greek verbs have been traditionally taught (and I used to
teach them) was to not worry at all about the meaning of the verbal
action in and of itself and to go directly to what tense its in.
Thus the way we all interpreted the verb was *totally* based on its
tense primarily and then contextual factors. However, there are
(at least) three factors involved in correctly understanding how a
particular verb is functioning in a particular passage; (1) the
Aktionsart of the lexis, (2) the aspect of its "tense", (3) contextual least that's the way I see it now.

To answer your specific question...

Each verb is only *one* of these things based on it lexical meaning
(lexis). "To run" is an Activity; a change of state is taking place
when "running occurs; the action is durative (ie., its ongoing by
nature); its non-prefaced and unbounded (ie., nothing has to happen
first for "running" to occur nor is there is an end point in view
in the verb [there could be in the context, but not in the verb in
and of itself]).

What you described above are the possible *aspectual* uses of "to
run" based on the tense, mood, and contextual factors used in any
given sentence using this verb.

Hope this helps...


Dale M. Wheeler, Ph.D.
Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail:

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