[b-greek] Re: Mk 10:20 aspectology

From: CWestf5155@aol.com
Date: Tue Aug 29 2000 - 15:36:51 EDT

In a message dated 08/29/2000 12:30:31 PM Mountain Daylight Time,
c.s.bartholomew@worldnet.att.net writes:

> In Mark 10:20 we read:
> Now I would expect one of the latter-day proponents of aspectology to raise
> the question why do see the form EFULAXAMHN here? Is this question worth
> exploring?
> The word group FULASSW, FULASSOMAI has semantic properties (see L&N below)
> which override the morphological tense/aspect marking. I would conclude
> this that getting preoccupied with the tense/aspect marking of EFULAXAMHN
> this context is chasing phantoms. Looking for something that isn't there.
> The primary contribution that EFULAXAMHN makes to this context is found in
> the domain of lexical semantics, not tense/aspect marking.

I've broken through me bonds and gags temporarily.

This is funny, because this is exactly where aspect works. The Aorist is
used here because the speaker wishes to state a fact/event/state of affairs
without any further dressing--"the user of Greek wishes to depict an action
as a complete and undifferentiated process." (Porter, "Idioms of the Greek
NT", p. 35).

I figured this out without the arrival of phantoms, without breaking a sweat,
and well before my oatmeal finished cooking.

I think that going through all those traditional categories to find just the
right label takes more time, and all the while I'd be fretting about why this
looks like a contradiction of what I perceived to be the Aorist's meaning.
And when I got it properly labelled, I would still be uncomfortable.

It works for me.

> This leads me to one of my basic disagreements with Systemic Functional
> Linguistics. The idea that every low level language feature is a matter of
> "choice" and therefore represents some sort of authorial intent. I don't
> this at all. I think that a lot of low level language features (e.g.
> tense/aspect) are simply conventions of a most mundane sort which tell us
> little or nothing about what the author is saying. Getting preoccupied with
> them is like standing in the Art Institute of Chicago with your nose three
> inches from a Cezanne looking at the texture of the canvas. You aren't
> to make any sense out of cubism from three inches away.

Well, Systemic Linguistics doesn't think that everything is a choice. The
principle is: when there is no choice, there is no formal significance--no
semantic load with the form. And SL recognizes linguistic phenomena such as
idioms and collocation--virtually no choice there. However, when there is a
choice, then in that case the choice has meaning (and I'll go on record to
say this is true for lexis too, though lexis doesn't involve a system like
the verbal system).

I think part of our problem is that aspect has assumed monstrous proportions
way out of perspective with the role it plays. Aspect is not the key to
understanding Greek--it is one of many many things that convey meaning. The
clearer I get on it, the less I focus on it--it is only one of the diverse
tools that I use when doing hermeneutics.

Cindy Westfall
PhD Student, Roehampton

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