Re: (longish) The Mysterious Disappearance of Verb Aspect

From: Don Wilkins (
Date: Tue Apr 14 1998 - 18:16:50 EDT

At 01:06 PM 4/14/98 -0700, George wrote:
>Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>> 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
>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

Lately I've had time only for occasional lurking, and I have purposely
stayed out of the tense/aspect wars. I'm not sure why I am butting in now,
but I would like to second Carl's comments. As to the snippet above, is it
not (crystal) clear that both imperative forms refer to the immediate future
(hoped for by the "commander")? George, I know you are agreeing to disagree,
but how can you possibly argue that one form specifies when and the other
does not? Either both are temporal or neither is. Personally, I think the
timing of the imperative--which is encouraging action on the part of the
listener--is a matter of logic which is consequential to grammar. If no
"when" is logically implied by the aorist imperative, then that is the kind
of command that suits me very well, because it apparently provides a
built-in excuse for procrastination (unless the other person says, e.g.,
"Die Thursday!", which is ok too because Wed's are always very busy).

Don W.

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