Re: Present tencccce copulative verbs

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Sep 02 1998 - 13:36:28 EDT

At 11:57 AM -0500 9/2/98, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>At 09:36 AM 9/2/98 -0700, lakr wrote:
>>Jonathan, are you sure it is the verb ?
>See, I *told* you it's a swamp! That's why I wanted to avoid this topic.
>FWIW, yes, I'm sure it's the verb. Read the book I cited if you have any
>doubts, because the behavior of English verbs isn't something I want to
>discuss in depth here.

But it won't die, this topic--it won't die a natural death. We shall have
to kill it (but that's not a threat); moreover, we can't get rid of the "c"
in the spelling of TENSE--and look how that "c" has spawned three more
"c's" in Jonathan's header!

The major point I wanted to reiterate in this melee about English and Greek
verbs is that we keep losing sight of the fact that Greek EIMI appears ONLY
in the present, imperfect, and future tenses. There is no aorist or perfect
tense for it, and although we may want to assert that the aorist and
perfect of GI(G)NOMAI do service for it, that only intensifies the problem:
GINOMAI means "enter into existence"; it does not mean "be." I'm not sure
that one can say "I have been" in Greek, as in "I have been wise in my
days, but have become a fool." What one must say is "I used to be wise, but
have become a fool":


Now there's a piece of tense relationships to ponder. And this is about the
way I feel about this thread.

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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