Re: (longish) The Mysterious Disappearance of Verb Aspect

Date: Wed Apr 15 1998 - 17:43:16 EDT

Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> >"When I count to three, young man, you had better be washing that
> >car!" [present (imperfective)imperative]
> >
> >vs
> >
> >"When I count to three, young man, you had better wash that car!"
> >[aorist, non-aspectually-specific, and most certainly not perfective]
> >
> >You see, the context provides the time and here imperfective aspect of
> >the aorist 'wash'.
> I don't understand this last. I cannot imagine using a Greek aorist for
> this second command; the context clearly implies a point for beginning,
> which implies use of a present imperative, and it cannot mean that the task
> must be completed on the count of three; so I cannot imagine a context
> wherein an aorist imperative would be used to express your last sentence.
> I should add that there's something very artificial and bogus about the
> whole enterprise of making up these sentences in English and using them to
> try to understand Greek, which is a very different language. What would be
> far more helpful would be to compile a list of aorist and present
> imperatives from the GNT and examine how differences of aspect affect
> understanding of the action described in each instance.

Thank-you Carl ~

You are right, of course. If there are no aorist imperatives in the
GNT that can clearly show by context that they are imperfective, the
issue is moot. The point remains, however, that they are
non-time-specific ['timeless'] within the future, and your aspect
[perfective] understanding will be affirmed, if not proven. I have
neither the computer program nor the scholarship to ferret out all the
GNT aorist imperatives. As the English example demonstrates, it DOES
have possibility, which is NOT proof, obviously. And using English as
'proof' IS bogus! Sorry!!

On my 'no time no aspect' understanding of the aorist, it would
certainly ALLOW perfective aspect, or imperfective aspect, but would
simply not specify either, which is where the aktionsart business
might have a legitimate entry into the discussion... [Much as I
dislike that whole idea!!] And in use, it may ALWAYS be the case that
it is used perfectively...

Thanks again for caring enough to respond off list.


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