re: Fundamentally flawed

From: Richard Lindeman (
Date: Tue Mar 24 1998 - 15:16:51 EST

I am either just boring everyone to tears with this philological
monologue... or I may be actually onto something. Since my ego will not
permit the former I will temporarily assume the latter. Hmmm... I seem to
recall someone saying something about what happens whenever a person
"assumes" something. :-)

OK... let me try once again to explain the concept of *Aspect*. Notice that
I enclose the word with asterix marks. That means I still am under the
impression that *Aspect* is context and that it demands reaction. But maybe
I should write it in small letters *aspect*... because it is very different
than the other contexts we have talked about. Rolf Furuli has suggested
that we re-write the terminology of *Aspect* into subjective terms rather
than in the objective terminology that we presently use with *aspect* of
punctiliar action, ongoing action, completed action, etc...

I agree with Rolf that every instance of *aspect* is subjective... But I
find it marvelous that the grammarians have handed down to us this
subjective concept clothed in objective terms. And I strongly disagree that
we should attempt to re-write the definitions of *aspect* in "emotional" or
subjective language. Let me try to explain why.

If *aspect* were a subjective concept written in subjective terms then it
would no longer be context. It would no longer command reaction to it. If
*aspect* were an objective concept written in objective terms, then it
would indeed be a force to be reckoned with... it would be a powerful
context flowing from the already incredibly powerful context of *Activity*.
But *aspect* is neither of these things. Instead it is a subjective concept
written in objective terms. This means that it is still context, but now
rather than being a powerful current of context it is rather a much weaker
ripple of context. Being subjective, it is subject to the interpretation
of each person individually. It is often so weak that it can barely be
seen. Only when *aspect* is reinforced by other more powerful contexts does
it become prominent.

So then, Tense is a reaction to the two contexts of *Time* and *aspect*.
*Time* is an incredibly powerful wave of context. There is no stopping it.
To try to manage *Time* with verbal endings is like trying to drink water
out of a fire hydrant... the context of *Time* is that powerful. There are
some instances where there is no need at all to address *Time* by Tense
endings because it is already understood and is already powerfully present
in the narrative. But rather the Tense of a verb instead draws our
attention to consider what is happening with *aspect*, that small ripple of
context which although at times demands expression, but then again is so
easily overpowered by by the waves of other more powerful surrounding

Therefore I believe that it is a tribute to our great grammarians of the
past that we have been given a definition of *aspect* in objective terms
even though it is a subjective concept. Rather than re-defining the
terminology of *aspect* we probably need to just emphasize strongly in our
grammars that we must not be fooled by it. For it is indeed subjective and
not objective in nature. It is a subtle stream rather than a mighty wave
flowing from the universal context of *Activity*. Does any of this make
sense to the rest of you? Or am I just off again in a world of my own???


Rich Lindeman

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