[b-greek] Re: Decker on Olsen

From: Kimmo Huovila (kimmo.huovila@helsinki.fi)
Date: Thu Mar 01 2001 - 05:26:42 EST

Randall Buth wrote:
> shalom Mark and Rodney
> >Mark egrapsen:
> >What Decker needs to do is find a few Imperfects that cannot INCLUDE
> >a reference to the past AT ALL, but must be ONLY non-past referring.
> >
> >My observation,
> I would add that non-cancelability is unicorn. Rodney also compared verbs
> to cases in his paper.
> Fine--consider that the five noun categories CERTAINLY map to multiple
> semantic roles.
> Proto-type theory is a way out of non-cancelability deadends.

I agree with the need to use a prototype approach. There is no need to
search for an absolute exceptionless system. There are hardly many
languages that would code tense if you applied the same criteria to
them. And excluding the prototype approach will create a view of
language that does not match actual use - whether the language is modern
or ancient.

> Also--when comparing present imperfective and imperfect imperfective,
> 'remoteness' is much too weak an explanation, especially with the extremely
> high 99+% correlation of imperfect with minus-future and plus-past. There
> really doesnt' seem to be any question that the idicatives prototypically
> code for tense in addition to aspect.

And the rest of the imperfects fall really nicely into prototype
categories that are, as far as I have understood, typical of the way
many tense languages use past tense.

Remoteness is fine as a term if it is understood that remoteness means
past tense with a couple of other minor prototype categories (remoteness
a more abstract schema than past tense, but past tense is a more basic
level category, if one is to use cognitive grammar terms).

I could add that aspect is no solution for those seeking an
exceptionless system. It seems that the imperfective morphological
aspect can be used of future events regardless of aspect. In other
words, Greek codes aspect primarily and tense secondarily, but the
aspectual distinction does not have to be coded in the future time
reference (but the perfective aspect CAN be coded with the aorist tense
if tense is considered secondary). (This is contrary to what I argued in
my thesis on Greek aspect, but I have seen my earlier view contradicted
with data and had to change it accordingly. This newer view of mine is
quite in line with general aspectual expectations based on ึsten Dahl's
study on aspect systems (ึ is an O with two dots above).). One exception
is Rev. 14:9 LAMBANEI which is aspectually a semantic perfective, though
a present indicative.

Tense and aspect tend to be interrelated in many languages, including
Greek. This is one more reason to include tense in Greek descriptions.
Aspect has been too often regarded as the mysterious trashcan category
that can catch all the odd uses, but it does not do justice to aspect as
a part of meaningful, denotative semantics.

> Sorry to be cryptic but i'm off to class.

I realize I am also way too cryptic, but also my time is very limited
now. I'll try to clarify my points (if need be) some time next week when
I can do e-mail again.

Kimmo Huovila

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