Re: (longish) The Mysterious Disappearance of Verb Aspect

Date: Wed Apr 15 1998 - 11:28:07 EDT

Don Wilkins wrote:

> >> 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
> >WHEN.

> As to the snippet above, is it
> not (crystal) clear that both imperative forms refer to the immediate future
> (hoped for by the "commander")?

Hi Don ~

The nature of the command is itself rather harsh, and thus would SEEM
[crystal] clear in view of the nature of 'die' as a command. There
is, however, a huge difference between "Be Dying!" [APOQNHSKE] and
"Die!" [APOQANE].

> 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.

Well, the imperative form is limited to the Future, and the present
form indicates the process [imperfective/ongoing] of the action
[dying], whereas the aorist indicates only the fact of dying, and
neither indicate the specific time in the future that it takes place.
So Carl is correct when he says it means 'Be Dead!', or actually 'Get
Dead!', but as to the question of 'When?', the 'when' will be
determined by context, for one can say 'Die now' [immediate future]
and 'Die tomorrow' [a gratefully delayed future!] using the same verb
form, and looking at this, one can just as easily say 'Be dying now'
and 'Be dying tomorrow' using the present imperative. And here Carl's
logic is at it's best, for the imperative does indeed fix the aorist
form as a [perfective] fact, thus necessarily giving it a 'past'
force. [Am I getting you right here, Carl?] And this is where the
'aspect' issue comes into focus.

The answer lies in the fact that the 'time' [future] is ALREADY
grammatically indicated by the imperative, thus allowing the aspectual
differences to come into play. Within the grammatical context of
'future', neither the present not the aorist tell 'when', within that
future, their action is to take place. The one simply indicates the
fact, and the other indicates the process. The 'when in the future?'
issue will be determined by other factors of context. So this
construction abstracts time from the 'present', and restricts the
'time' of the aorist to the future, with neither having time
specificity within that future. [Either can be ANY time in the
future.] So the present becomes like the timeless aorist, focusing on
imperfective process, and the aorist becomes what it always was, the
timeless fact of an action, with both in the future, with the 'when in
the future' not specified.

So I have learned something important here. Neither the present
imperative nor the aorist imperative specify which future time their
action is to take place, and thus aspect issues are all that are
left. Because there are only TWO aspects, the aorist in this
grammatical construction has perfective aspect. And this, I hope,
succintly states the thrust of Carl's understanding, from which he
concludes that the aorist has past perfective aspect and past force,
thus giving the aorist its past time denotation.

The problem with this approach to the aorist is that it begins from
the future, a preselected [imperative] time, and is therefore a
'special case' use of the aorist, which it is happily and fully
capable of performing.
More later... Gotta run!


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