Grammatical Terms in Greek

Biblical Greek morphology and syntax, aspect, linguistics, discourse analysis, and related topics

Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby MAubrey » November 6th, 2013, 9:26 am

Paul-Nitz wrote:In English, how would we SIMPLY (no linguist talk allowed!) distinguish the concept of "tense" from general time-related functions in language? Is there anything missing in this statement?

"Tense" answers when the action happened.


The key, I think it to emphasize that we have two time based categories:

"Tense answer when the action/event happened in time (e.g. past, present, future)
"Aspect" answers how an action/event happened in time (e.g. as a whole, progressively, iteratively, habitually, etc.).
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby RandallButh » November 6th, 2013, 10:53 am

A couple brief points:

1. a 'tense' is a morphosyntactic category that can encompass both aspectual and temporal reference. If a language does not have two words for 'time' and 'tense', then a word like 'time' will simply develop a separate nuance when used as 'linguistic time category'.

2. ὁ μέλλων is closer to ἀόριστος ὅψις  than παρατατική. However, only modern Greek distinguishes 'continuative' and 'perfective/aorist' in the future.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby Stephen Hughes » November 6th, 2013, 11:00 am

Paul-Nitz wrote:I managed to sort out my thinking about naming the Indicatives.

Is there some reason that should be obvious to me why the perfect is not included?
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby RandallButh » November 6th, 2013, 11:40 am

simple reason? the perfect is funky.

We list the perfect infinitive in smaller print on a separate line in our Morphologia book.

Some verbs do not have a known perfect, and a few common, core verbs use the perfect in place of an expected continuative or aorist, like εἰδέναι. Some are listed as substitutes for continuative like στῆναι ἑστάναι, where verbs in the catalogue (Morphologia) are typically listed by the aorist infinitive followed by the continuative. (with this verb note that ἕστηκα is joined with ἑστάναι, not *ἑστηκέναι.)

Practically speaking for most verbs, it means that the perfect becomes somewhat secondary in priority for students expanding and building their Greek.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby MAubrey » November 6th, 2013, 12:19 pm

RandallButh wrote:1. a 'tense' is a linguistic categorary that can encompasses both aspectual and temporal reference.


Maybe 100 years ago, but it isn't any longer standard usage.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby cwconrad » November 6th, 2013, 1:23 pm

MAubrey wrote:
RandallButh wrote:1. a 'tense' is a linguistic categorary that can encompasses both aspectual and temporal reference.


Maybe 100 years ago, but it isn't any longer standard usage.


So perhaps you would update us, Mike? What's the latest official designation of what was once called "tense"? And was it really about 1913 that the term "tense" went out of vogue?

I'm reminded a bit of an argument we had in a faculty meeting over changing the designation of "F" for "failure" to something less pejorative. One wag noted that morticians had been endeavoring for quite some time to abolish the concept of death by calling it something else but had not yet succeeded. I realize that's not really comparable, of course, but although we readily agree that "tense" or "temps" or "tempus is perhaps not the most suitable term for what we're applying it to. But we need something like the official notice of the switch from"standard" to "daylight" time to call things by their "right" names.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby RandallButh » November 6th, 2013, 4:18 pm

Carl, I think that Michael was thinking of 'tense' in the abstract while I was referring to emic categories within particular languages. I've changed my wording from "linguistic category" to "morphosyntactic category" to help on that focus. In other words I would call the Greek Imperfect a "tense", like the Aorist indicative is a tense, even though as Greek tense categories they differ in aspect and are both past tenses. In any case, most languages mix some tense and aspect in their verbal morphosyntactic categories. Maybe this helps Michael, though perhaps he could provide his own explanation.

Ironically, Porterites have been using 'tense' this way [morphosyntactic verbal category] during the last twenty years. the big difference from Porterites and the rest is that most prefer to use 'tense' as a name of a category when some sense of referential time distinction is included in the category. Infinitives and participles, subjunctives, optatives, and imperatives are not tenses in this definition. But present, imperfect, aorist, perfect, pluperfect, future and future perfect indicatives are Greek tenses.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby Stephen Hughes » November 6th, 2013, 9:34 pm

RandallButh wrote:Practically speaking for most verbs, it means that the perfect becomes somewhat secondary in priority for students expanding and building their Greek.

In a way, that somewhat resembles the development from the Koine to the Modern idiom.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby MAubrey » November 6th, 2013, 10:02 pm

Carl, your cutting wit is always a pleasure. Randall's explanation is more or less in line with what I would have said. I'm always thinking cross-linguistically because that is my focus.

Nevertheless, I'm not sure I would have said "in the abstract." I think my view has just as much credibility as an emic one for two reasons:

(1) Tense and Aspect are distinguished in the morphology. Temporal reference (=tense) is determined by the status of the ἐ- prefix in conjunction with the secondary endings (which are complicated morphemes since they involve extended exponence in their semantics). Aspect appears closer to the verb root in a combination of prefixed reduplication and a suffix that directly follows the verb root. It is because tense and aspect are realized distinctly in their morphological structure, I do not subsume them under a single category. Granted, whether morphological distinctions are "abstract" or not is a question of philosophy of linguistics...

(2) Ancient grammarians recognized that distinction. It is certainly clear that the stoic grammarians saw a need for distinguishing tense from aspect as distinct morphosyntactic categories when they chose the terms: παρῳχειμένος παρατατικός, ἐνεστώς παρατατικός, παρῳχειμένος, συντελικός, ἐνεστώς συντελικός.
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Re: Grammatical Terms in Greek

Postby cwconrad » November 7th, 2013, 7:58 am

MAubrey wrote:Carl, your cutting wit is always a pleasure. Randall's explanation is more or less in line with what I would have said. I'm always thinking cross-linguistically because that is my focus..

Indeed, there is a difference between thinking cross-linguistically and thinking specifically about Greek. The question, however, is what word/term should we use for the morphological category whereby we distinguish λαμβάνω from λή(μ)ψομαι, ἔλαβον,εἴληφα, εἴλημμαι, and ἐλή(μ)φθην -- in English -- or in Greek?

MAubrey wrote:Nevertheless, I'm not sure I would have said "in the abstract." I think my view has just as much credibility as an emic one for two reasons:

(1) Tense and Aspect are distinguished in the morphology. Temporal reference (=tense) is determined by the status of the ἐ- prefix in conjunction with the secondary endings (which are complicated morphemes since they involve extended exponence in their semantics). Aspect appears closer to the verb root in a combination of prefixed reduplication and a suffix that directly follows the verb root. It is because tense and aspect are realized distinctly in their morphological structure, I do not subsume them under a single category. Granted, whether morphological distinctions are "abstract" or not is a question of philosophy of linguistics....

What is "exponence"? (Our new rule requires clarification of gobbledygook). More to the point, what is the term that you would prefer to use for the category of morphological forms that "grammaticalize" (i.e., change a 'content' word into a 'function word) what we call "tense" and "aspect"? Is there a term that has replaced "tense" -- whether 100 years ago or more recently?

MAubrey wrote:(2) Ancient grammarians recognized that distinction. It is certainly clear that the stoic grammarians saw a need for distinguishing tense from aspect as distinct morphosyntactic categories when they chose the terms: παρῳχειμένος παρατατικός, ἐνεστώς παρατατικός, παρῳχειμένος, συντελικός, ἐνεστώς συντελικός.


(a) When you wrote παρῳχειμένος, did you mean παρῳχημένος (this is from παροίχομαι, is it not?)?
(b) We should assume, should we not, that these masculine descriptive adjectives and participles are in agreement with an implicit noun χρόνος. But that's talking about the ancient grammarians; what Greek term would you propose to designate this morphological category for forms distinguishing time/tense and aspect? Is there something preferable to χρόνος, and if so, what?
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