[b-greek] Re: Fwd: Re: Past Time Morph and Aorist Forms (was John 3:3-5)

From: Dave Washburn (dwashbur@nyx.net)
Date: Sat May 12 2001 - 10:38:37 EDT

To Ward Powers (whose grammar I have used quite effectively for
teaching Greek, THANK YOU!),

> >The past time morph is the "syllabic augment" (a prefixed epsilon) when it
> >is added to a consonant, and the "temporal augment" (lengthening of the
> >initial vowel) when the simplex verb commences with a vowel. Thus LUW has
> >the aorist ELUSA, and AKOUW has the aorist HKOUSA.

Obviously this holds true of second aorists as well such as

> >Other relevant comments:
> >
> >1. It is best to avoid using the term "past tense" in relation to the
> >aorist tense, as it can easily be interpreted to mean that all the forms of
> >that tense are "past" - which of course is not true of the aorist. We must
> >avoid generalizations that "the aorist is past tense" or anything like it,
> >as this opens the door to endless future confusion.

Most definitely.

> >2. Rather, we need to recognize that a verb form is past time when it
> >contains the past time morph: and this occurs in the indicative of the
> >aorist, and also in the imperfect and pluperfect tenses (which can only be
> >indicative).
> >
> >3. In use, an indicative aorist form may occasionally be used without past
> >time significance (as in a gnomic aorist). This simply means that there are
> >instances when a particular context overrides morphological significance:
> >this does not negate the generality of the rule about the meaning of the
> >past tense morph.

And now to the main question I want to ask: would you consider
this an idiomatic usage, or do you think there may be something in
the morphology that quietly opens a door to this kind of use? I
lean toward the idiomatic approach myself, but I'm very interested
in other views.


Dave Washburn
"You just keep thinking, Butch. That's what you're good at."

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