Re: (longish) The Mysterious Disappearance of Verb Aspect

Date: Tue Apr 14 1998 - 16:06:48 EDT

Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> You are missing a very fundamental point, George. The so-called "tenses" of
> Greek are not fundamentally about time as such but about the way action is
> viewed, as completed (perfect: APOTEQNHKEN hO PAULOS "Paul is dead"), in
> process (progressive or present system: APOQNHSKEI hO PAULOS "Paul is
> dying" or APEQNHSKEN "Paul was dying"), or as a complete action (aorist:
> APEQANEN hO PAULOS "Paul died").
Well, Carl, here we have it as clear as day!

The past perfect tells us Paul died. [or Paul did die]

The present [imperfect] tells us Paul is dying.

The past imperfect tells us Paul was dying.

The aorist, ignoring both tense and aspect, simply tells us one fact,
Paul dies. From this aorist, we cannot say past, present, future,
perfect or imperfect. These matters must be shown elsewhere, and
generally are.

> In the indicative (with the augment) the
> aorist describes a complete action in past time, but we could conceivably
> show by imperatives the real difference between an aorist and a progressive
> of the same verb--outside the indicative that basic linkage to past time is
> NOT determinative for the aorist, just as surely as it IS when the aorist
> is indicative). So the imperatives:
> APOQNHSKE: "Start dying!" or "Go on and keep dying!" or "Die again and again!"

Consistency requires that we say "Be dying!" It DOES say WHEN.

> APOQANE: "Die! (right now and all at once)" "Get dead!"

And here, I agree with you. It simply says "Die!" It does NOT say
> But it is a fundamental mistake to look at the Greek Present, Imperfect,
> Aorist, and Perfect primarily in terms of the TIME of an event to which
> they refer. The augmented indicatives do refer to the past and the future
> tense does refer to the future, but outside of the indicative mood, the
> different verb systems refer describe the way the action is viewed, not
> when the action takes place.

We simply understand differently.


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