Re: (longish) The Mysterious Disappearance of Verb Aspect

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Apr 14 1998 - 12:45:25 EDT

At 11:21 AM -0500 4/14/98, wrote:
>When a single verb form, the Aorist, is as at home in the past, "I GO
>to church last week and guess who was there?", as it is in the present
>ongoing [imperfective] "I GO to church now.", as it is in the future,
>"I go to church tomorrow.", as it is in all three combined, "I GO to
>church every Sunday.", then we can safely conclude that it is NOT the
>verb form that is providing ANY linear time designation. Those
>designations are provided by other factors of the text, not by the
>Aorist. The Aorist, of itself, does not care WHEN, only THAT an
>action occurs... If you want that action placed 'in time', you must
>go elsewhere...
>This is so obvious to me....

But proof to the contrary will not deter you from thinking it. Whether one
calls it "common sense" or not, the prevalent view is that the AUGMENT
(whether the "syllabic" placement of an E- before the verb stem, or the
"temporal" lengthening of an initial vowel of the verb stem) on the
indicative of an imperfect, aorist, or pluperfect marks it definitively as
referring to past time.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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