[b-greek] Re: Speaking in Verbal Aspect (Porter)

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Thu Nov 09 2000 - 11:29:03 EST

At 3:05 PM +0000 11/9/00, Mark Wilson wrote:
>I have been trying to digest much of Porter's understanding of Greek Verbal
>Aspect. What seems to stand out is the unnatural way in which it must have
>been spoken, if his non-temporal verbal system is correct.
>It seems to me that typical conversations would have to be loaded with
>deictic indicators for even the most casual of conversations.
>And I can not even imagine a parent trying to teach a child how to begin to
>talk in simple concepts. Did parents simply teach their children to speak in
>the Aorist (his "default" form)?
>His system seems counter-intuitive to how we learn to talk. And it seems to
>me that a particular language is FIRST spoken, and THEN written.
>Any thoughts.

Thoughts, yes, always thoughts.

(1) I honestly don't think that children learn that much from what parents
consciously try to teach them--not that they DON'T learn from that too, but
rather, I think children learn most from the way parents behave as they
talk to each other and to the child, and I suspect that it's not conceptual
syntax that they learn in any case but pragmatic syntax: the how of
language, not the why--how it means rather than why it means that way.

(2) I'm not holding a candle or a torch or anything else out for Porter
(I'll let Rod Decker do that, if he wants to), but I think you ought to
write out another page or two of your random thoughts such as the message
you've just sent us and--since it's very colloquial (it's the way you'd
talk directly to people listening to you chat), you then ought carefully to
examine what you've written and count the deictic indicators that have
dotted your speech.

(3) Off the top of my head I come up with these expressions in our
"present" tense (is it an "aorist"?):

(a) "I'm going downtown TODAY." (future?)
(b) I go downtown EVERY DAY (iterative, but is it really present?)
(c) "LAST WEEK I go downtown and enter this bar I go to ALL THE TIME and
                the bartender talks to me like he knows me ALL MY LIFE,
(what tense(s) are "go", "enter", "go to", "talks", and "knows"?

Hey, are you changing addresses again. You do that AGAIN AND AGAIN! And
you're using "emory" again but not the "pits".


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649

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