Re: complet(ed)

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Fri Mar 27 1998 - 11:30:46 EST

Mari Broman Olsen writes,

I think the real difference between Rolf and me (and I think neither
of us has read the other, except on the list) is in approach: I want
individual accounts of a language to feed into an explanatory
predictive approach for describing other languages, and how kids
acquire them with ease (and simpler systems, like algebra and logic,
only with great difficulty). I think the answer lies in discovering
the universal underpinnings (hardware?) of Language, and pushing the
universal semantic categories so they cover (without being too
diluted) the range of phenomena we see, so that they can cover the kid
coming to her language at the start. I think Rolf is more concerned
that the theory cover the nuances and specifics in the individual
languages (and he no doubt knows Greek much better than I (or me ;-)
)). We agree in the building blocks (I think, namely Aktionsart,
Aspect, Tense), and that good theories of these should be explanatory.

Dear Mari,

I appreciate very much this post of yours, and I say amen to the words
above. I have learned much from your book and admire the consistency and
logic in your presentation. Regarding the description of dead languages we
all to a certain extent are groping in the dark, and I will never say
regarding my model for Greek aspect "this is the truth", but rather "this
is the best model of which I am aware". I am all the time looking for
nuances and am ready to adjust my thinking when necessary. I appreciate
that you do not view my search for counterexamples as an attack on you
personally or anybody else. It is not! I love the Greek language and am
always curious about what I read. Therefore I all the time want to say:
"Look at this! How can the traditional understanding of aspect ( or
whatever) be true in view of these clauses?" And I appreciate just as much
arguments against my position as for it, because this is the way we can
make progress.


Rolf Furuli
Lecturer in Semitic languages
University of Oslo

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