Are participles temporally unmarked?

From: Moon-Ryul Jung (
Date: Sat Mar 06 1999 - 03:37:57 EST

Dear George,

>>From: "Moon-Ryul Jung"
>>George wrote:
>>> Time and Aspect are perhaps not as separable as they might seem.
>>> So how does past time sneak in on those pesky unaugmented
>>> I would have to guess that it does so through aspect, which is in
>>>truth inseparable from time designation
>>This was a response to the following observation:
>> According to Porter, when the participle appears before the main
>>verb, "there is a tendency for the action to be depicted as
>>antecedent," while when after the main verb, "there is a tendency for
>>the action to be seen as concurrent or subsequent." (Porter, Verbal
>>Aspect, p. 381)
>Actually, it was in response to the query that asks why an unaugmented
>participle seems to translate so well as a past tense.

OK. My comments seem to be more relevant to that question. Participles
desciribe partially determined situations in that they do not specify the
(actor) and the time of a given situation. But the reader or the speaker
easily determine the subject and the time of the situation.
But though I like your statement that

  "it does so through aspect, which is in truth inseparable
   from time designation",

we can state this intuition better by separating (reference) time and
Both are related indirectly because both are needed to describe a
The reference time can be determined from the context.

For example, consider Mark 1: 35, which I recently read:

Kai pro^i ennuka lian anastas exelthen kai ape^lthen.
    inmorning night still rising he-went

When the hearer hears the phrase
 "pro^i ennuka lian anastas", he/she would immediately
form a situation in the mind where somebody rose IN THE EARLY MORNING,
which is the reference time for the situation described by the aorist

In sum, I would say that "situation is inseparable from time designation".

Moon-Ryul Jung

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