Re: Is TEMPUS A Part of Greek Grammar?

From: Jim West (
Date: Fri Sep 24 1999 - 12:51:52 EDT

At 11:44 AM 9/24/99 -0400, you wrote:
>Whoa! You're making a major assumption, Jim. To suggest that verbs do not
>grammaticalize temporal relationships in the Greek verb ("tense") says
>nothing about whether or not the language can express time or not. You're
>confusing theoretical, semantic, metalinguistic tense (M-tense, a deictic
>category) with language tense (L-tense, a morphological category)--those
>are Levinson's terms.

Im not confusing them at all. I think theoretical approaches are bogus from
the start because they dont deal with reality. How language works in the
real world is what interests me- not how it works in the aether of theory.

> All that Young/Silva are questioning is whether or
>not Greek grammaticalizes L-tense (Porter denies it outright, as does
>McKay). There is no language or culture that does not have M-tense, but a
>number of languages lack L-tense. Although a few may debate it, OT Hebrew
>does just that--and it certainly isn't a bizzare idea there, nor is it in
>Greek. Languages express temporal relationships in a variety of ways--tense
>is only one of them. The Am. Sign Language example that someone else
>mentioned is a good example, as is Burmese and Hopi.

umm... now your speaking swahili to me. Again, theoretical approaches to
"why" language works or "how" it works are beyond the pale so far as I am
concerned. Im glad some folks are interested in them (though for the life
of me I cant see why). Still, examining the entrails of the gnats must be
useful for something... (maybe, remotely.) Perhaps Aristophanes could shed
some light here for us.

and be sure to keep your sense of humor,


Jim West, ThD
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