Present tense, re Wheeler

Date: Wed Oct 20 1999 - 19:17:32 EDT

In a message dated 10/20/99 1:26:43 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

<< Thus, to paraphrase you Stephen, the problem
 with seeing the Present form as always progressive/imperfective is that it
 doesn't always fact most of the time it doesn't work. Actually
 my suggestion might help Porter get out of one of his biggest problems,
 namely that there are in his scheme two "imperfective" forms, the present
 and the imperfect, which if they aren't distinguished by any time
 parameters, create a difficulty for language in general, since speakers
 tend to get rid of unnecessary redundancies in their language. Now if the
 imperfect is the only "imperfective" tense form, and the present is a zero
 tense, then Porter is off the hook for this one, since the Present form can
 then be used in all the time situations were special Lexis and contextual
 issues need to override any aspectual nuance the tense form might otherwise
 create (I don't think this is necessarily true, but it is interesting). >>

Actually, Porter differentiates between the present form and imperfect form
by remoteness. One kind of remoteness is temporal, but there are other types
of remoteness as well.

Would be interested in having you enlarge the part listed above in bold.

<and if there is just one form and it has progressive/imperfective/internal
then how could Greeks ever express the aoristic and perfective ideas in
present time??>

By using various deictic markers such as 'now' etc. and the general context
of the sentence/passage. There are a fair number of examples of aorist form
and pefect form that refer to present time.

One of the things that you continue to do is to translate into English and
derive (at least it seems to me) at least some of your understanding of Greek
verbs from your understanding of how English and German work. We must
however, understand Greek from how a Greek speaker/reader would have
understood it, not as we would approach it as users of different languages
with a time based verbal system.

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