Time Reference of Future Participles and Infinitives

From: Moon-Ryul Jung (moon@saint.soongsil.ac.kr)
Date: Mon Mar 08 1999 - 05:20:33 EST

Dear Carl,

It is sheer joy to read your posts. Thanks for your insights.

On 03/06/99, ""Carl W. Conrad" <cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu>" wrote:
> >
> >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
> >participle
> >clause.
> >
> >In sum, I would say that "situation is inseparable from time designation".
> I think this is generally very true; it is all the more evident in
> indicative forms with an augment and the aorist indicatives, although they
> may occasinally refer to other than past time, nevertheless almost always
> refer to past time--a fact which I think can usually be readily discerned
> by examination of individual instances. Participles and infinitives are,
> however, more open to variation. I could write a simple Greek sentence like
> to mean "I'll read that when I get up early in the morning while it's still
> quite dark."--in this instance referring to my habitual practice of getting
> up at 5 a.m. to read and respond to e-mail; in this instance this
> perspective is made clear by the future tense indicative ANAAGNWSOMAI, from
> which it becomes evident that ANASTAS must mean "when I arise (at some
> point in the future)." I think there are usually indications of some such
> sort to help one sort out the time-reference of participles and
> infinitives, but I'd still say that the participles and infinitives
> themselves--presents, aorists, and perfects, at least--have only aspect,
> not temporal reference.

Future participles and infinitives, on the other
> hand, do indeed have temporal reference, governed always by a reference
> point indicated in the clause upon which they are dependent.

Your comments made me raise some questions.

1. FUTURE participles and infinitives seem to be interesting species,
are not found in English. Are there other languages that have them?

2. As a computer scientist, who had a habit of transforming natural
sentences into logical formulas, I feel that the distinction in
time reference between FUTURE participles and infinitives and other
participles and infinitives is a matter of degree. The logical formula
for a clause has a free variable, RT (reference time), that needs to be
bound to some time value.

In the case of FUTURE participles and infinitives
the RT is morphologically constrained so that it is bound to some
future time, although the particular time value is determined
by the context ( which includes the main clause to which the participle
clause is dependent).

In the case of other participles and infinitives, there is
morphological constraint on the reference time. The reference time
is determined all by the context (including the main clause).

In sum, we might well say that any type of clause HAS temporal
in deep structure.

3. In sum, while the "deep structure" of any kind of clause has the RT,
the subject/actor, etc., they may not be explicitly specified
in surface structure. Is it because language is "economic"? The
would not like to say things that do not have to be said. Uttering or
hearing redundant phrases would not be pleasing.

4. But the avoidance of redundancy may not be the only reason for the use
participles and infinitives. Are there concepts or views of situations
that cannot be expressed WITHOUT using participles and infinitives?


Moon-Ryul Jung
Assistant Professor
Dept of Computer Science
Soongsil University,
Seoul, Korea

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