Re: (longish) The Mysterious Disappearance of Verb Aspect

Date: Sun Apr 12 1998 - 12:34:51 EDT

Rolf Furuli wrote: [snips]

> So if our
> definition of Greek present, aorist, imperfect and the others cannot
> account for the use of particular verbs in particular contexts, the
> definition needs a revision. We should be suspicious at a definition with
> many exceptions.

> ... I claim that the imperfective and perfective aspect is
> completely detached from verbal action... this is not always easy seen in Greek
> because of the augment which seems to signal past time. If two important
> verbal characteristics are combined in the same morphological form (past
> time + imperfectivity in imperfect and possibly past time + perfectivity in
> aorist) it is difficult to know which factor is responsible for which
> effect. I believe the augment is responsible for a good many of the effects
> which are interpreted as aspectual.

Hello Rolf ~

The mixture in Greek of time and aspect does need to be understood.

 The present is ongoing by definition ~ Leastwise I have never been
able to stop it!! :-) So this ongoingness [unfortunately called
imperfect in English] perhaps should be the starting point for
understanding Greek time designation.

 The past has been ongoing for a VERY long time, and so, we may
presume, will the future. These, one might conclude, [I sure do], are
the ONLY 3 'times' in Greek, or English either, for that matter.
Past, present and future.

 When we talk about past or future actions, we can talk about them as
ongoing, or completed, hence the imperfect or perfect. [The pluperfect
is a 'doubling up' of the perfect] ~ 'I was running', or 'I did run'
[I ran.] The trick here, my friend, is that the completion of an
action of necessity puts it in the past, even when we are talking
about it in the future. 'I will have run'. To complete [perfective]
the action of running, I MUST stop running, which puts my running in
the past and 'behind' me timewise. How can it be otherwise?

Thus the perfective of necessity is an historical completed [verbal]
action as it is seen from the ongoing [imperfective] present, [at
least by this accounting]. Future perfectives are also past
historical completed events, as they are regarded from the ongoing
[imperfective] future 'present' from which they are being seen.
Likewise, the pluperfect is a past completed action seen from the
perspective of the ongoing [imperfective] past.

The imperfective past, present and future are the platforms from which
these completed actions are to be seen. The ongoingness of the present
is where one starts for their understanding. This seems simple to me,
and commonsensical. The perfective can only be understood in terms of
the imperfective ~ How can it be otherwise? We are ALWAYS in the
imperfective present, even as we think about past and future, which
are inherently imperfective by their very nature, being products
[grammatically] of the ongoingness of the present in which we always
have our being.

Am I missing something BIG here?? [I am fully capable of such error ~
Trust me...]

Happy Easter!


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