Understanding the usage of +/- in linguistic papers?

Biblical Greek morphology and syntax, aspect, linguistics, discourse analysis, and related topics
Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Understanding the usage of +/- in linguistic papers?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 27th, 2018, 11:18 pm

Steven, thanks for the quotes and your observations. When I first heard about Porter and Campbell's "aspect only" theory, my initial response was "Did anybody tell the Greeks that?" The indicative mood is clearly and regularly used throughout Greek literature to mark tense. What you call pragmatic uses I'm used to thinking of as idiomatic uses (since I was trained originally in classical philology), but it amounts to the same thing. One doesn't build an entire theory based on a few exceptions and ignore the vast number of counter examples easily provided from the surviving literature. Translation also helps us here, not the translation of one verse into English, but translation of ancient Greek into Latin contemporaneous with it (and translations of Latin into Greek). Latin -- really tense oriented, right? imperfect indicatives tend to get translated as imperfect indicatives, aorists and perfects as the Latin perfect (since simple past and the perfect are combined in Latin), present tenses as present tenses, future as future. Did the ancient translators get it wrong? I don't think so. And I don't ever think I've seen a Greek perfect rendered in Latin as a present tense, or an aorist either, including Mark 1:11 where the verb is rendered conplacui.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Understanding the usage of +/- in linguistic papers?

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 27th, 2018, 11:52 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 11:18 pm
And I don't ever think I've seen a Greek perfect rendered in Latin as a present tense, or an aorist either, including Mark 1:11 where the verb is rendered conplacui.
The present tense scio often translates the perfect οιδα (I haven’t checked them all, but see Rev 2:2), and similis est (also present tense) translates the perfect εοικεν in James 1:3.
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RandallButh
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Re: Understanding the usage of +/- in linguistic papers?

Post by RandallButh » September 28th, 2018, 2:14 am

OK. I got it.
Meaning, OK, I understand. Present. Now.

Hebrew does this even more than English. ידעתי. אני יודע. I know. חפצתי לשמוע דבר חדש "I want to hear something new." More literally in Hebrew-English, "I wanted to hear something new."
there is a class of verbs that can do this in Hebrew that might be called "modal/psychological" (although with יכולתי it is אוּכל that is used in a present situation, not יכולתי , and this due to the specific lexical modality of יכול 'capable, potentially able'.). But a person still does not use the past tense with מחר "tomorrow" (i.e. never ויעש מחר* or מחר עשיתי*) any more than a Greek would use an aorist indicative OR even AN IMPERFECT indicative with αὔριον "tomorrow". If the Greek indicative has no time, then why in the history of the language do we not find *ἐποίει αὔριον "*he was doing tomorrow [sic]" or ἐποίησε αὔριον "*he did it tomorrow [sic]"? And true to the thread, this adds another linguistic symbol [ * ], which marks an unacceptable utterance, sometimes lexicalized in normal English with "[sic]".

And yes, if any language gets pushed, you can break something up, especially where systems like "subjunctive" and "indicative" collapse. Modern English tolerates or at least understands "if I was you ..." though I would expect that if asked, teachers would still correct that to "if I were you ...". For example, I can imagine a person thinking "I was going to do that tomorrow." in answer to "Why didn't you do that?" and saying in short "I was doing that tomorrow." What is the point that I am making here on English? An adverbial test may show 99.9% consistency and an alleged inconsistency becomes the proverbial exception that proves the rule. Languages are finite systems that can "paint themselves into a corner", but special situations do not dissolve the language into meaninglessness. If someone ever says "I was doing that tomorrow" it does not strip English of tense. So how close does Greek get to this English example? Try the Acts of Paul and Thecla 29:1: ὅτι ἔμελλεν εἰς τὴν αὔριον θηριομαχεῖν "because she was going to fight the beasts tomorrow." But of course, the adverb "tomorrow" goes with the infinitive clause, like in the acceptable English example above. And as for the aorist indicative with αὔριον ? Not.


PS: the above provides some framework around εὐδόκησα. Like Isaiah 42.1 προσεδέξατο αὐτὸν ἡ ψυχή μου "my soul accepted him, I am pleased [with] him", corresponding to ‏בְּחִירִ֖י רָצְתָ֣ה נַפְשִׁ֑י with present implications, remembering that Hebrew רצה (√r.ts.y.) is also paired with εὐδοκῆσαι in the LXX.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Understanding the usage of +/- in linguistic papers?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 28th, 2018, 5:37 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 11:52 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 11:18 pm
And I don't ever think I've seen a Greek perfect rendered in Latin as a present tense, or an aorist either, including Mark 1:11 where the verb is rendered conplacui.
The present tense scio often translates the perfect οιδα (I haven’t checked them all, but see Rev 2:2), and similis est (also present tense) translates the perfect εοικεν in James 1:3.
Yes, Stephen, we've had something of this conversation before, and you keep bringing up these examples. I'm not talking about "frozen forms" consistently treated as presents, or even idiomatic/pragmatic usages, but about verbs which have the full or near full complement of morphological identity. οἶδα and ἔοικε also do not counter the overall claim that Greek verbs are used to mark tense in the indicative.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Understanding the usage of +/- in linguistic papers?

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 28th, 2018, 3:33 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 28th, 2018, 5:37 am
Yes, Stephen, we've had something of this conversation before, and you keep bringing up these examples. I'm not talking about "frozen forms" consistently treated as presents, or even idiomatic/pragmatic usages, but about verbs which have the full or near full complement of morphological identity. οἶδα and ἔοικε also do not counter the overall claim that Greek verbs are used to mark tense in the indicative.
And I’ll keep bringing them up as long your generalisations continue to ignore the most common perfect in the New Testament. Beginning Greek students aren’t going to realize that your statements about the perfect are technically false for the most common perfect they’ll see.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Understanding the usage of +/- in linguistic papers?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 28th, 2018, 5:26 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
September 28th, 2018, 3:33 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
September 28th, 2018, 5:37 am
Yes, Stephen, we've had something of this conversation before, and you keep bringing up these examples. I'm not talking about "frozen forms" consistently treated as presents, or even idiomatic/pragmatic usages, but about verbs which have the full or near full complement of morphological identity. οἶδα and ἔοικε also do not counter the overall claim that Greek verbs are used to mark tense in the indicative.
And I’ll keep bringing them up as long your generalisations continue to ignore the most common perfect in the New Testament. Beginning Greek students aren’t going to realize that your statements about the perfect are technically false for the most common perfect they’ll see.
And you've just nailed the issue. "The most common perfect in the New Testament" is a specialized usage from which generalizations cannot be made. Even you have to qualify my "statements" as technically false. The hypothetical beginning Greek student can certainly learn how the perfect works "generally" and then he can learn the exceptions. And of course, that's how generations of Greek teachers have presented it, I'm sure going all the way back to antiquity. In other words, your two examples don't prove my generalizations about the perfect wrong any more than pragmatic/idiomatic usages of the aorist prove that the indicative is not used for tense.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Tim Evans
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Re: Understanding the usage of +/- in linguistic papers?

Post by Tim Evans » September 28th, 2018, 8:44 pm

Thanks Steve, that is really helpful. I am part way through this book and had not come across these responses yet. Clearly I need to spend more time in this book, but in the mean time, the 1 Corinthians 1:21 passage is a helpful one to contrast with.

I did a survey of commentaries on Mark 1:11, including ones you would turn to for grammatical/translation issues, and all but one made any comment at all, except for one, which left brief passing comment with no explanation of why they made that decision. (I don't have access to Hermeneia, that might be interesting to look at). So assuming that the response to Campbell's clim regarding Mark 1:11 is that the aorist is used for 'pragmatic effect' then we rightly need a test for such a thing. In the example "I just wanted to ask you if you could lend me a dollar." My reading of that void of any context, is it is reference to a past action (i.e. Perhaps a begger was approaching someone, and something occurred that made them need to clarify what they were about to do) I assume this example is intended to be read as the question not having been asked yet, and thus demonstrates indication that the desire was formed prior to the asking of the question. So in Mark 1:11 we understand that usage of the aorist demonstrates that the "pleasedness" was formed prior to the statement.

I have seen an example of a very old email on the old b-greek list, where Randall provides a very helpful example of this, he presented an illustration of people exclaiming "Were dead". which is an example that I find quite compelling, because obviously people can't speak if they are actually dead. But practically speaking, how do we "test for" when the aorist is being used this way, in Mark 1:11, I am not sure if there is enough contextual information within the immediate context to enable us to properly determine if we have the aorist being used for pragmatic effect, rather than arbitrary exceptions that don't conform to our theology?
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