The Greek Perfect with Verbs of Speech

The Greek Perfect with Verbs of Speech

Postby MAubrey » May 7th, 2013, 4:43 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:My understanding of the completives in BPP is not such that they would readily apply to verbs of communication at all, much less have the meaning that you are proposing for them. (For example, I don't understand how speaking literally "exhausts" anything. Eating, yes. Burning, yes. But speaking?) And none of their few examples are on point. Furthermore I don't understand why completive semantics, even if they can be made to work, would be better for these perfects than either the anterior or even the evidential sematics that resultatives have been known to evolve into, repeatedly.

BPP doesn't actually deal with it, but they do list two languages in their data that have a morpheme with both completive and resultative semantics together: Nakanai & Buriat. The fact of the matter is that BPP were selective in the data that they actually discuss.

Perfects of verbs of speech have exhaustive semantics in that they function in a performative manner. To quote Wackernagel:

Wackernagel, Lectures on Syntax, 220/Vorlesungen über Syntax I.170-1 wrote:Commentators on the Attic authors often speak of an 'emphatic' or 'rhetorical' perfect. This involves cases where for example an orator concluding his speech says not παύομαι but πέπαυμαι, or the instance at Aristophanes, Lysisrata 859, εἴρηκ' εὐθέως 'she (Mrrhine) immediately says', or the giving of commands in the perfect imperative instead of the present or aorist imperative. This has nothing to do with the present use of the perfect forms discussed above. This involves rather an anticipatory use of the perfect, whereby the speaker reports straightaway the completion of the | action that is being performed: εἴρηκε ''the word is already spoken', 'the speech is already complete'. This is really more a styled mode of expression than the introduction of a new meaning of the perfect.


Perfects of speech verbs often appear at the end of a speech and function as a declaration that the speech has come to an end. Here's one of my favorites on that front:
Exodus 10:29 wrote:λέγει δὲ Μωυσῆς Εἴρηκας, οὐκέτι ὀφθήσομαί σοι εἰς πρόσωπον

Or consider λελάλεκα in Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 5:15 wrote:καὶ ἔσῃ στενακτὴ καὶ δηλαϊστὴ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν τοῖς κύκλῳ σου ἐν τῷ ποιῆσαί με ἐν σοὶ κρίματα ἐν ἐκδικήσει θυμοῦ μου, ἐγὼ κύριος λελάληκα.

Ezekiel 5:17 wrote:καὶ ἐξαποστελῶ ἐπὶ σὲ λιμὸν καὶ θηρία πονηρὰ καὶ τιμωρήσομαί σε, καὶ θάνατος καὶ αἷμα διελεύσονται ἐπὶ σέ, καὶ ῥομφαίαν ἐπάξω ἐπὶ σὲ κυκλόθεν, ἐγὼ κύριος λελάληκα.

Ezekiel 22:13–14 wrote:ἐὰν δὲ πατάξω χεῖρά μου πρὸς χεῖρά μου ἐφʼ οἷς συντετέλεσαι, οἷς ἐποίησας, καὶ ἐπὶ τοῖς αἵμασίν σου τοῖς γεγενημένοις ἐν μέσῳ σου, 14 εἰ ὑποστήσεται ἡ καρδία σου; εἰ κρατήσουσιν αἱ χεῖρές σου ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις, αἷς ἐγὼ ποιῶ ἐν σοί; ἐγὼ κύριος λελάληκα καὶ ποιήσω.

Ezekiel 30:12 wrote:καὶ δώσω τοὺς ποταμοὺς αὐτῶν ἐρήμους καὶ ἀπολῶ τὴν γῆν καὶ τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῆς ἐν χερσὶν ἀλλοτρίων, ἐγὼ κύριος λελάληκα.

There are also examples where the perfect is used with idioms that denote exhaustiveness, such as: ἅπαξ καὶ δὶς.
Deuteronomy 9:13 wrote:καὶ εἶπεν κύριος πρός με Λελάληκα πρὸς σὲ ἅπαξ καὶ δὶς λέγων Ἑώρακα τὸν λαὸν τοῦτον, καὶ ἰδοὺ λαὸς σκληροτράχηλός ἐστιν
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Re: The Greek Perfect with Verbs of Speech

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 8th, 2013, 8:20 am

Thanks for addressing my questions, Mike. It is very helpful, but I am still having a lot of difficulty with the proposal.

MAubrey wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:My understanding of the completives in BPP is not such that they would readily apply to verbs of communication at all, much less have the meaning that you are proposing for them. (For example, I don't understand how speaking literally "exhausts" anything. Eating, yes. Burning, yes. But speaking?) And none of their few examples are on point. Furthermore I don't understand why completive semantics, even if they can be made to work, would be better for these perfects than either the anterior or even the evidential sematics that resultatives have been known to evolve into, repeatedly.

BPP doesn't actually deal with it, but they do list two languages in their data that have a morpheme with both completive and resultative semantics together: Nakanai & Buriat. The fact of the matter is that BPP were selective in the data that they actually discuss.


If BPP isn't so helpful, I would appreciate some literature that deals with completives and verbs of speaking. There's really nothing in BPP that supports this. If the point is that a Greek perfect can have both completive and resultative semantics, well, it should be pointed out that the Nakanai gram also has anterior semantics, which I don't think you accept for Greek.

MAubrey wrote:Perfects of verbs of speech have exhaustive semantics in that they function in a performative manner. To quote Wackernagel:

Wackernagel, Lectures on Syntax, 220/Vorlesungen über Syntax I.170-1 wrote:Commentators on the Attic authors often speak of an 'emphatic' or 'rhetorical' perfect. This involves cases where for example an orator concluding his speech says not παύομαι but πέπαυμαι, or the instance at Aristophanes, Lysisrata 859, εἴρηκ' εὐθέως 'she (Mrrhine) immediately says', or the giving of commands in the perfect imperative instead of the present or aorist imperative. This has nothing to do with the present use of the perfect forms discussed above. This involves rather an anticipatory use of the perfect, whereby the speaker reports straightaway the completion of the | action that is being performed: εἴρηκε ''the word is already spoken', 'the speech is already complete'. This is really more a styled mode of expression than the introduction of a new meaning of the perfect.


I am concerned that there may be an equivocation with "exhaustive" here. It is not apparent to me that "exhaustive" in relation to a change of state (like eating or burning) means the same thing as performative for a speech act. A speech act can be concluded without being performative, and it can be performative without being concluded. They seem to be different concepts. Moreover, I don't see how BPP's notion of a completive (and their discussion of the Nakanai completive) can apply to speech acts, so I don't get where this notion is coming from. Indeed, performative speech acts in Greek are often introduced with a verb of speaking in the present.

As for Wackernagel, he's referring to various disparate kinds of "emphatic" uses of the perfect. The citation to Arist. Lys. 859 is not at the conclusion of a speech but really a different example of an emphatic usage. None of his examples even seem performative to me. Rather, it is the prior, complete(d) act of speaking that was performative, and the perfect is just making a comment about its continuing effect. In fact, anterior semantics work great here, so it is not clear to me that a proposed completive is a better explanation of the phenomenon here than the alternatives.

MAubrey wrote:Perfects of speech verbs often appear at the end of a speech and function as a declaration that the speech has come to an end. Here's one of my favorites on that front:
Exodus 10:29 wrote:λέγει δὲ Μωυσῆς Εἴρηκας, οὐκέτι ὀφθήσομαί σοι εἰς πρόσωπον

The verb εἴρηκας is not at the end of Moses's statement, but at the beginning since Moses goes on to tell the Pharoah that he will not see him face-to-face again. And he's not declaring that his own speech is at end, but, rather, he is referring to the Pharoah's statement (introduced by λέγει in v.28). Also, Moses isn't declaring the Pharoah's speech to be over as if he had cut him off and forbid him to speak further. Rather, he's talking about the continuing effect of the Pharoah's declaration. Anterior semantics work nicely here.

MAubrey wrote:Or consider λελάλεκα in Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 5:15 wrote:καὶ ἔσῃ στενακτὴ καὶ δηλαϊστὴ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν τοῖς κύκλῳ σου ἐν τῷ ποιῆσαί με ἐν σοὶ κρίματα ἐν ἐκδικήσει θυμοῦ μου, ἐγὼ κύριος λελάληκα.

Ezekiel 5:17 wrote:καὶ ἐξαποστελῶ ἐπὶ σὲ λιμὸν καὶ θηρία πονηρὰ καὶ τιμωρήσομαί σε, καὶ θάνατος καὶ αἷμα διελεύσονται ἐπὶ σέ, καὶ ῥομφαίαν ἐπάξω ἐπὶ σὲ κυκλόθεν, ἐγὼ κύριος λελάληκα.

In Eze 5:15, the perfect λέλάληκα does not come at the end of the discourse (and it in fact keeps going for another two verses). Rather, it is a meta-comment acknowledging the performative effect of the previous statement. Again, anterior semantics work great. Though v.17 is indeed at the end of the discourse, I think it has the same semantics as in v.15 where there is no notion of concluding. As to the discourse being performatiive, it is introduced by λέγει.

MAubrey wrote:
Ezekiel 22:13–14 wrote:ἐὰν δὲ πατάξω χεῖρά μου πρὸς χεῖρά μου ἐφʼ οἷς συντετέλεσαι, οἷς ἐποίησας, καὶ ἐπὶ τοῖς αἵμασίν σου τοῖς γεγενημένοις ἐν μέσῳ σου, 14 εἰ ὑποστήσεται ἡ καρδία σου; εἰ κρατήσουσιν αἱ χεῖρές σου ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις, αἷς ἐγὼ ποιῶ ἐν σοί; ἐγὼ κύριος λελάληκα καὶ ποιήσω.

I analyze the perfect in 22:14 as above for 5:15. The perfect does not conclude the discourse, for it continues for another two verses, but it acknowledges the performative effect a previous statement.

MAubrey wrote:
Ezekiel 30:12 wrote:καὶ δώσω τοὺς ποταμοὺς αὐτῶν ἐρήμους καὶ ἀπολῶ τὴν γῆν καὶ τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῆς ἐν χερσὶν ἀλλοτρίων, ἐγὼ κύριος λελάληκα.


This is like 5:17.

MAubrey wrote:There are also examples where the perfect is used with idioms that denote exhaustiveness, such as: ἅπαξ καὶ δὶς.
Deuteronomy 9:13 wrote:καὶ εἶπεν κύριος πρός με Λελάληκα πρὸς σὲ ἅπαξ καὶ δὶς λέγων Ἑώρακα τὸν λαὸν τοῦτον, καὶ ἰδοὺ λαὸς σκληροτράχηλός ἐστιν


The easy counter-argument is that any notion of exhaustiveness (to the extent that it is actually there and means more than more completeness) is due to the idiom ἅπαξ καὶ δίς, rather than the perfect tense. Also, anterior semantics are compatible with the expression.

So, to sum up: (1) I don't understand yet how these are examples of the perfect as performative speech acts, rather than references to the performative effect of completed speech act (usually introduced by λέγει as one would expect for a performative). (2) I don't understand yet how performative speech acts are completive or exhaustive. (3) I don't see yet how a completive is superior to the anterior as an explanation of these speech act perfects.

This is not to say that these obstacles are insurmountable, but they do show where I'm struggling.

Stephen
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Re: The Greek Perfect with Verbs of Speech

Postby MAubrey » May 8th, 2013, 9:39 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:If BPP isn't so helpful, I would appreciate some literature that deals with completives and verbs of speaking. There's really nothing in BPP that supports this. If the point is that a Greek perfect can have both completive and resultative semantics, well, it should be pointed out that the Nakanai gram also has anterior semantics, which I don't think you accept for Greek.

I'm at a complete loss here as to how saying BPP were selective is equivalent to saying they aren't helpful. BPP isn't the Bible. But that doesn't make them useful. Unlike (neaerly) all the other literature on the perfect, they actually have a methedology that isn't crap. They don't start with a set of categories mostly derived from English that are adopted wholesale without any kind of critical evaluation. And its resulted in hundreds are article that make all sorts of languages look strangely like English.

The fact that the Nakanai has anterior semantics isn't relevant at all. It would be if Greek allow for atelic perfects, but it doesn't. I've said it before, that's one of the defining features in my mind. That's the barrier for my accepting the possibility of an anterior in Ancient Greek. A barrier that hasn't been surmounted. The fact that a given perfect in a language looks like an anterior or experiential is nice and all, but it means absolutely nothing at all if the distribution is skewed in the other direction.
Stephen Carlson wrote:I am concerned that there may be an equivocation with "exhaustive" here. It is not apparent to me that "exhaustive" in relation to a change of state (like eating or burning) means the same thing as performative for a speech act. A speech act can be concluded without being performative, and it can be performative without being concluded. They seem to be different concepts. Moreover, I don't see how BPP's notion of a completive (and their discussion of the Nakanai completive) can apply to speech acts, so I don't get where this notion is coming from. Indeed, performative speech acts in Greek are often introduced with a verb of speaking in the present.

Well, the problem is more that you're trying to force my words into a far more narrow mold than I would prefer them to go. They're not equivalent. It's a metaphor. But I do see now that its a metaphor that shouldn't have used.

Stephen Carlson wrote:As for Wackernagel, he's referring to various disparate kinds of "emphatic" uses of the perfect. The citation to Arist. Lys. 859 is not at the conclusion of a speech but really a different example of an emphatic usage. None of his examples even seem performative to me. Rather, it is the prior, complete(d) act of speaking that was performative, and the perfect is just making a comment about its continuing effect. In fact, anterior semantics work great here, so it is not clear to me that a proposed completive is a better explanation of the phenomenon here than the alternatives.

Coincidentally, all of the clauses I referenced from the LXX involved "emphasis." Feel free to not use the term "performative." But I will take the time to explain exactly what I meant by it with reference to the examples I provided, or at least the first. I hope that what I intended is fairly obvious after that. As for the fact that anterior semantics work great here. Sure! Absolutely. But to repeat myself from above: the fact that a given perfect in a language looks like an anterior or experiential is nice and all, but it means absolutely nothing at all if the distribution is skewed in the other direction. If the morphosytactic distribution is dramatically different in notable respects, it is methodologically unwise to use the same label for both forms...in the same way that it was unwise for me to use the term "performative" here...huh, well that's a taste of my own medicine.

Exodus 10:29 wrote:λέγει δὲ Μωυσῆς Εἴρηκας, οὐκέτι ὀφθήσομαί σοι εἰς πρόσωπον

Its more than just current relevant here, Moses is stating explicitly that Pharoah's words are the direct cause of his leaving. Moses is saying that Phaoroh's words themselves are performative in that their very uttering initiates their realization. Thus Moses asserts: You have said it [such that it will be]. You have said it so "completely" that it is realized.

Anyway...if you don't like the term "performative" for what I'm seeing because of all its already existing speech act baggage, that's fine. It's probably good. I recant the use of the term.

But the larger problem that you and I keep running into is that the cognitive space in which anteriors, completives and resultatives reside is complex with fuzzy boundaries. The three categories: Anteriors, Completives, and Resultatives are idealized prototypes. They aren't discrete boxes that we can simply put morphemes into and have them fit. More than anything else, this disagreement between the two of us is probably little more that arguing about:

(1) Where to draw the lines between the three prototypes (what usages go with which category).
(2) How to draw the lines between the three prototypes (what criteria are used for determining the category).

Other than that, nine times out of ten you and I have tended to hold roughly the same view while simply presenting it in different ways. At least, that how it seems to me...
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Re: The Greek Perfect with Verbs of Speech

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 8th, 2013, 3:00 pm

MAubrey wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:If BPP isn't so helpful, I would appreciate some literature that deals with completives and verbs of speaking. There's really nothing in BPP that supports this. If the point is that a Greek perfect can have both completive and resultative semantics, well, it should be pointed out that the Nakanai gram also has anterior semantics, which I don't think you accept for Greek.

I'm at a complete loss here as to how saying BPP were selective is equivalent to saying they aren't helpful. BPP isn't the Bible. But that doesn't make them useful. Unlike (neaerly) all the other literature on the perfect, they actually have a methedology that isn't crap. They don't start with a set of categories mostly derived from English that are adopted wholesale without any kind of critical evaluation. And its resulted in hundreds are article that make all sorts of languages look strangely like English.


The problem I'm having with BPP is that they have a pretty good and clear description of completives. I've read it several times, and I think I understand it. My problem? It seems to have almost nothing to do with you mean by completives. You seem to be using the terms as a generic emphatic form or something. (I'm really having a hard time getting a handle on your sense of the term.) That's my frustration.

As a result, since I thought if BPP isn't presenting completives in the way that you seem to mean, I was wondering if you had other literature in mind that does. I would just like some background reading on the topic. For example, I found one article earlier today about completives in several languages (incl. Nakanai), where it is used to express unexpected or involuntary actions, but I don't think that's what going with your proposed completives for Greek. So I think I missed your point about BPP being selective. I just thought that if BPP is too limited/selective, you ought to be able to point to something else less limited or selective about completives.

MAubrey wrote:[The fact that the Nakanai has anterior semantics isn't relevant at all. It would be if Greek allow for atelic perfects, but it doesn't. I've said it before, that's one of the defining features in my mind. That's the barrier for my accepting the possibility of an anterior in Ancient Greek. A barrier that hasn't been surmounted. The fact that a given perfect in a language looks like an anterior or experiential is nice and all, but it means absolutely nothing at all if the distribution is skewed in the other direction.


I'd like to hear more about this distributional argument. (You've told me about a small class of verbs.) Based on my reading of the literature, I know that the anterior permits use with a greater class of verbs than the resultative. I also recognize that the anterior did not become fully productive in classical Greek but has a limited distribution (assuming that it existed), so that the distributional argument at best tells me that the Greek perfect did not fully grammaticalize to the anterior (which is my position); it doesn't refute that the anterior existed in a more limited form.

It's news to me, however, that Greek does not allow for atelic perfects. Am I reading you right? There are perfects with state verbs (e.g. 2 Cor 1:9 ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς τὸ ἀπόκριμα τοῦ θανάτου ἐσχήκαμεν, where the sentence of death wasn't carried out or still in existence; John 1:32 τεθέαμαι τὸ πνεῦμα; 1 John 1:1 ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν) and activity verbs (John 8:33 οὐδενὶ δεδουλεύκαμεν πώποτε; John 12:29 ἄγγελος αὐτῷ λελάληκεν). We also have our good friend κέκραγεν in John 1:15. Are what I have labelled "states" and "activities" really telic? Or is your argument that they aren't perfect=resultative because they are really completive or involve negative polarity cases?

MAubrey wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:I am concerned that there may be an equivocation with "exhaustive" here. It is not apparent to me that "exhaustive" in relation to a change of state (like eating or burning) means the same thing as performative for a speech act. A speech act can be concluded without being performative, and it can be performative without being concluded. They seem to be different concepts. Moreover, I don't see how BPP's notion of a completive (and their discussion of the Nakanai completive) can apply to speech acts, so I don't get where this notion is coming from. Indeed, performative speech acts in Greek are often introduced with a verb of speaking in the present.

Well, the problem is more that you're trying to force my words into a far more narrow mold than I would prefer them to go. They're not equivalent. It's a metaphor. But I do see now that its a metaphor that shouldn't have used.


Yeah, this is a common problem in academia. Hopefully, we can work out our misunderstandings before something gets committed to print.

MAubrey wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:As for Wackernagel, he's referring to various disparate kinds of "emphatic" uses of the perfect. The citation to Arist. Lys. 859 is not at the conclusion of a speech but really a different example of an emphatic usage. None of his examples even seem performative to me. Rather, it is the prior, complete(d) act of speaking that was performative, and the perfect is just making a comment about its continuing effect. In fact, anterior semantics work great here, so it is not clear to me that a proposed completive is a better explanation of the phenomenon here than the alternatives.

Coincidentally, all of the clauses I referenced from the LXX involved "emphasis." Feel free to not use the term "performative." But I will take the time to explain exactly what I meant by it with reference to the examples I provided, or at least the first. I hope that what I intended is fairly obvious after that. As for the fact that anterior semantics work great here. Sure! Absolutely. But to repeat myself from above: the fact that a given perfect in a language looks like an anterior or experiential is nice and all, but it means absolutely nothing at all if the distribution is skewed in the other direction. If the morphosytactic distribution is dramatically different in notable respects, it is methodologically unwise to use the same label for both forms...in the same way that it was unwise for me to use the term "performative" here...huh, well that's a taste of my own medicine.


Yeah, I'm getting the impression that what you feel about my use of "anterior" is how I feel about your use of "completive" ...

MAubrey wrote:
Exodus 10:29 wrote:λέγει δὲ Μωυσῆς Εἴρηκας, οὐκέτι ὀφθήσομαί σοι εἰς πρόσωπον

Its more than just current relevant here, Moses is stating explicitly that Pharoah's words are the direct cause of his leaving. Moses is saying that Phaoroh's words themselves are performative in that their very uttering initiates their realization. Thus Moses asserts: You have said it [such that it will be]. You have said it so "completely" that it is realized.


Well, it can be sometimes hard to distinguish between the meaning that the gram is contributing and what the context is contributing. I think the current relevance of the anterior is what invites the reader to make this inference from the context. As for the completive, I just would like any example of a completive speech act in any language working this way. The scare quotes around "completely" suggests to me that another metaphor is at work.

MAubrey wrote:Anyway...if you don't like the term "performative" for what I'm seeing because of all its already existing speech act baggage, that's fine. It's probably good. I recant the use of the term.


Sure.

MAubrey wrote:But the larger problem that you and I keep running into is that the cognitive space in which anteriors, completives and resultatives reside is complex with fuzzy boundaries. The three categories: Anteriors, Completives, and Resultatives are idealized prototypes. They aren't discrete boxes that we can simply put morphemes into and have them fit. More than anything else, this disagreement between the two of us is probably little more that arguing about:

(1) Where to draw the lines between the three prototypes (what usages go with which category).
(2) How to draw the lines between the three prototypes (what criteria are used for determining the category).

Other than that, nine times out of ten you and I have tended to hold roughly the same view while simply presenting it in different ways. At least, that how it seems to me...


Yeah, I think we're in agreement that the bulk of the ancient Greek perfects are resultative. Where we are disagreement for the moment is how to characterize the rump. Perhaps we're both fishing for the right characterization, but I'm saying "anterior" and you're saying "completive." (By the way, BPP have another development, from resultative to "evidential." Have you considered that?)

Yes, my working hypothesis is that we are seeing a limited movement of the Greek perfect into the anterior with situations that are irresultative "cycles" (i.e, bounded states or activities), or have a result state that has not persisted to the temporal frame of reference (which can be a telic event reinterpreted as a cycle). Why do I chose anterior for these cases? For me, it is because (1) the semantics work fine, (2) it is in the path of evolution of these grams, and (3) several scholars (many of whom are not native English speakers) have argued for this with examples I've found compelling. But I'm open to another term if its conceptual baggage is as suitable. (For completives, my problems are (1) the semantics seem to need a metaphorical extension, (2) on the grammaticalization cline, it is swimming upstream, and (3) it is exotic.)
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Re: The Greek Perfect with Verbs of Speech

Postby MAubrey » May 9th, 2013, 4:57 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:The problem I'm having with BPP is that they have a pretty good and clear description of completives. I've read it several times, and I think I understand it. My problem? It seems to have almost nothing to do with you mean by completives. You seem to be using the terms as a generic emphatic form or something. (I'm really having a hard time getting a handle on your sense of the term.) That's my frustration.

Then maybe the issue is simple that we're reading BPP differently. I am most certainly not using the term as a generic emphatic. All this time I had been under the impression that I was directly following the description of BPP. To the extent that BPP talks about completives involves the performance of an event completely exhaustively, or thoroughly, the idea of "emphasis" rather readily arises. I can only assume you didn't seen that in BPP like I did, perhaps?

I'm wondering, when you look at the example BPP give for completives, which ones don't fit with the Greek perfect in your mind?
Stephen Carlson wrote:I'd like to hear more about this distributional argument. (You've told me about a small class of verbs.) Based on my reading of the literature, I know that the anterior permits use with a greater class of verbs than the resultative. I also recognize that the anterior did not become fully productive in classical Greek but has a limited distribution (assuming that it existed), so that the distributional argument at best tells me that the Greek perfect did not fully grammaticalize to the anterior (which is my position); it doesn't refute that the anterior existed in a more limited form.

I'd hardly consider activity predicates and semelfactives "a small class of verbs."
Stephen Carlson wrote:It's news to me, however, that Greek does not allow for atelic perfects. Am I reading you right? There are perfects with state verbs (e.g. 2 Cor 1:9 ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς τὸ ἀπόκριμα τοῦ θανάτου ἐσχήκαμεν, where the sentence of death wasn't carried out or still in existence; John 1:32 τεθέαμαι τὸ πνεῦμα; 1 John 1:1 ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν) and activity verbs (John 8:33 οὐδενὶ δεδουλεύκαμεν πώποτε; John 12:29 ἄγγελος αὐτῷ λελάληκεν). We also have our good friend κέκραγεν in John 1:15. Are what I have labelled "states" and "activities" really telic? Or is your argument that they aren't perfect=resultative because they are really completive or involve negative polarity cases?

I should have rephrased. I meant: dynamic atelic predicates. I assumed that you already knew from our past conversations that I wasn't talking about states. My mistake. I'm also not denying anything is resultative. Everything that you think is resultative I likely view as resultative as well. Its just that where you're arguing "resultative-anterior," I'm arguing "resultative-completive." For John 12:29, I don't understand why you think its an activity. There's been a clear change of state (=telic). The same goes for κέκραγεν. Did not John cry out something specific and referential? If it did, then its telic...even if we accept these perfects as involving an imperfective mismatch.

This isn't to say that there isn't residue. I have maybe five dynamic atelic predicates. All of which we've talked about already in e-mail, I think. But the reside is so dramatically small in comparison to the rest that I

As for negative polarity, that's another interesting distributional test for perfects and how they interact with activity predicates. There are three types of negation typologically, each defined on the basis of their scope:

(1) Nuclear Negation (Henry undid all of Suzie's efforts in less than an hour).
(2) Core Negation (Who ).
(3) Clause Negation (Henry did not work today).

The first is expressed lexically in both English and Greek, so its not relevant here, but the second two are highly relevant. Core negation, the negation of an argument, allows for an activity (dynamic & atelic) predicate to stay an activity predicate, but clause negation (the negation of the proposition as a whole) changes an activity predicate into a state. All the way back to Vendler, the basis distinction betwen states and non-states (i.e. static and dynamic predicates) has been that only the latter (non-states) can function to answer the question "What happened?" But a negated proposition is, by defintion, a non-happening. "Henry did not work today" is a state. We have been slaves to no one ever is a state. It does not answer "what happened." It cannot be done "vigorously" or "quickly."

All in all, if dynamic atelic predicates can be made perfects, then it should be possible to negate an argument rather than the entire proposition. I'm yet to have seen that. So that's another test (alongside what kinds of arguments can be questioned in perfects...which we talked about previously).

Now, as for John 8:33, you might be quick to point out that this clause is: καὶ οὐδενὶ δεδουλεύκαμεν πώποτε, and thus technically means: "We have been slaves to no one ever" rather than "We have not been slaves to anyone ever." Surely that's the negation of an argument, rather than of the clause. No, οὐδενὶ is not the negation of an argument it is a negative argument and negative arguments (i.e. lexical negation rather than grammatical) make a clause propositionally identical to clause negation and thus this clause is a state, rather than an activity. And as a state, it also happens to work as a nice example of BPP's discussion of states predicates.
Stephen Carlson wrote:Yeah, I'm getting the impression that what you feel about my use of "anterior" is how I feel about your use of "completive" ...

Well, I'll be the first to admit that I've struggled to understand how you've used a numerous terms (our lengthy back and forth about "experiential perfect" comes to mind.
Stephen Carlson wrote:Well, it can be sometimes hard to distinguish between the meaning that the gram is contributing and what the context is contributing. I think the current relevance of the anterior is what invites the reader to make this inference from the context. As for the completive, I just would like any example of a completive speech act in any language working this way. The scare quotes around "completely" suggests to me that another metaphor is at work.

Of course! That's what language is: a huge pile of metaphors. Take those out and there's no language change, no grammaticalization, no semantic extension, no bleaching, and most importantly, no communication at all. Metaphor is the foundation all of meaning.
Stephen Carlson wrote:Yeah, I think we're in agreement that the bulk of the ancient Greek perfects are resultative. Where we are disagreement for the moment is how to characterize the rump. Perhaps we're both fishing for the right characterization, but I'm saying "anterior" and you're saying "completive." (By the way, BPP have another development, from resultative to "evidential." Have you considered that?)

There's nothing particularly evidential about Greek's perfect.
Stephen Carlson wrote:Yes, my working hypothesis is that we are seeing a limited movement of the Greek perfect into the anterior with situations that are irresultative "cycles" (i.e, bounded states or activities), or have a result state that has not persisted to the temporal frame of reference (which can be a telic event reinterpreted as a cycle). Why do I chose anterior for these cases? For me, it is because (1) the semantics work fine,

I'm yet to have found a discussion of anteriors as involving telicity restrictions for dynamic predicates. That's my beef: the semantics don't work fine. I never even gave "completive" a thought until *after* I began seeing that. In fact, I had simply skimmed over the completive discussion entirely before that point. I had simply assumed resultative to anterior. And I'm inclined to wonder if that's what most people have been doing.
Stephen Carlson wrote:(2) it is in the path of evolution of these grams, and

This is true. This is the strongest point and one I keep coming back to.
Stephen Carlson wrote:(3) several scholars (many of whom are not native English speakers) have argued for this with examples I've found compelling.

They are non-native speakers, yes, but first, as far as I'm aware, they all speak languages that have the very same areal feature of a possessive perfect as English and secondly, they're all relying what I would view as a highly problematic tradition cognitively and methodologically. I'd be more interested if there were people writing about Ancient Greek whose native language was Welsh or Russian--languages whose verbal systems has rejected the possessive future despite its areal dominance because of linguistic compatibility.
Stephen Carlson wrote:For completives, my problems are (1) the semantics seem to need a metaphorical extension,

That's a very odd objection to my eyes...semantics *is* metaphoric extension. I'm wondering how you expect a resultative to turn into a anterior without metaphor. Analogy, generalization, bleaching, those are all types of metaphor.
Stephen Carlson wrote:(2) on the grammaticalization cline, it is swimming upstream, and

Which cline are you talking about? The one on BPP, 105, that fails to account for those langauges that have both a resultative and a completive meaning? (I'll have access to grammars on Nakanai and Buriat soon, btw, and I just noticed on Table 3.5 that Tucano has both resultative and completive usages, too). That particular chart isn't based on all their data. It's based on a subset of languages that are thoroughly documented in their history. Its useful
Stephen Carlson wrote:(3) it is exotic.

The problem is that if you want one thing to be exotic, then really, just about any linguistic feature can be considered exotic. Is it a numbers thing? How many languages would BPP need to list over their 35 to make the category non-exotic? Or is it because it isn't a standard term? If you look at the tables beginning of page 295 of BPP, you'll see that most completives aren't called completives in any case from Past, to Perfective, to Perfective, Emphatic Particle, Emotive are all labels used for what BPP call completives.

All in all, if those are your problems, I think we're doing pretty well.

But there's a lot here. Maybe we can pick one or two pieces and work through that instead of doing everything at once. I think we're going to get lost in this thread otherwise.
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Re: The Greek Perfect with Verbs of Speech

Postby MAubrey » May 9th, 2013, 6:51 pm

MAubrey wrote:Which cline are you talking about? The one on BPP, 105, that fails to account for those langauges that have both a resultative and a completive meaning? (I'll have access to grammars on Nakanai and Buriat soon, btw, and I just noticed on Table 3.5 that Tucano has both resultative and completive usages, too). That particular chart isn't based on all their data. It's based on a subset of languages that are thoroughly documented in their history. Its useful

I should add that the diagram on page 105 of BPP is by no means complete in any case. There's no mention of anteriors developing on their own from possessive predicates either. It isn't that completive-resultative semantics together violates the unidirectionality hypothesis, but that as it stands, the unidirectionality hypothesis makes so claims whatsoever about the relationships between completives and resultatives.
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Re: The Greek Perfect with Verbs of Speech

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 10th, 2013, 3:36 am

I'll break up my responses to keep it manageable.

MAubrey wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:The problem I'm having with BPP is that they have a pretty good and clear description of completives. I've read it several times, and I think I understand it. My problem? It seems to have almost nothing to do with you mean by completives. You seem to be using the terms as a generic emphatic form or something. (I'm really having a hard time getting a handle on your sense of the term.) That's my frustration.

Then maybe the issue is simple that we're reading BPP differently. I am most certainly not using the term as a generic emphatic. All this time I had been under the impression that I was directly following the description of BPP. To the extent that BPP talks about completives involves the performance of an event completely exhaustively, or thoroughly, the idea of "emphasis" rather readily arises. I can only assume you didn't seen that in BPP like I did, perhaps?

I'm wondering, when you look at the example BPP give for completives, which ones don't fit with the Greek perfect in your mind?


I view "completive" as a prototype concept, so what's more important are the particular species from which the concept is built rather than possibly over-inclusive generic description as a working definition. It's like claiming that the Greek augment indicates "remoteness", but the kinds of remoteness that it indicates are only pastness and counterfactuality--it does not cover remote futures or remote in distance, and I would look skeptically on claims that it does, based only the fact that they are in some sense "remote." On p. 34, BPP has a working definition of "something is done thoroughly and completely, completely affecting the object." The working definition on p. 57, is somewhat broader, relating the second part of completely affecting the object to a sub-type:
BPP p.57 wrote:Although our working definition of completive is 'to do something thoroughly and completely', it happens that in our reference material grams signaling an action performed completely and thoroughly are often described as having semantic nuances or other uses of three sorts.

1. The object of the action is totally affected, consumed, or destroyed by the action. To repeat, 'to eat up' is a good example.

2. The action involves a plural subject of intransitive verbs or object of transitive verbs, especially an exhaustive or universal plural, such as 'everyone died' or 'he took all the stones'.

3. The action is reported with some emphasis or surprise.

Number 1 clearly refers to telic verbs, so dynamic atelics are out. There is not only a change of state but it can be completely done. It is also the prototypical case of doing something thoroughly and completely and most of BPP's examples fall under this. This is the subtype closest to resultatives on the path of grammaticalization, and the prototypical Greek perfect is resultative.

Number 2 involves plural participants, but we have discussed many examples that don't involve that.

Number 3 is not a generic emphasis gram, but as in other literature I've read, it corresponds to unexpected (or counter-to-expectation) new information (sometimes termed "admirative"). This sense can be glossed with 'already' or 'went and did'. BPP's examples bear that out.

So none of these sub-types really seem to fit how what it looks to me like what you're doing with Greek. Perhaps having a new sub-type of completive not insurmountable, but it seems like it would have to take a lot of additional work even to establish that these Greek perfects are untypical completives. In other words, if you are going to propose that some Greek perfects are a new sub-type of completive, you'll need to find some close analogies in other languages or else you'll risk what looks like circular reasoning to others if Greek is the only evidence that the sub-type exists. The circularity problem is compounded when the Greek texts at question seem to be consistent with other proposed interpretations of the perfect.
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Re: The Greek Perfect with Verbs of Speech

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 10th, 2013, 3:53 am

MAubrey wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:I'd like to hear more about this distributional argument. (You've told me about a small class of verbs.) Based on my reading of the literature, I know that the anterior permits use with a greater class of verbs than the resultative. I also recognize that the anterior did not become fully productive in classical Greek but has a limited distribution (assuming that it existed), so that the distributional argument at best tells me that the Greek perfect did not fully grammaticalize to the anterior (which is my position); it doesn't refute that the anterior existed in a more limited form.

I'd hardly consider activity predicates and semelfactives "a small class of verbs."

I remember your telling me about active achievements in questions. I don't remember seeing anything about activity predicates and semelfactives, so it's good to hear that you've got more.
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Re: The Greek Perfect with Verbs of Speech

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 10th, 2013, 4:43 am

MAubrey wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:It's news to me, however, that Greek does not allow for atelic perfects. Am I reading you right? There are perfects with state verbs (e.g. 2 Cor 1:9 ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς τὸ ἀπόκριμα τοῦ θανάτου ἐσχήκαμεν, where the sentence of death wasn't carried out or still in existence; John 1:32 τεθέαμαι τὸ πνεῦμα; 1 John 1:1 ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν) and activity verbs (John 8:33 οὐδενὶ δεδουλεύκαμεν πώποτε; John 12:29 ἄγγελος αὐτῷ λελάληκεν). We also have our good friend κέκραγεν in John 1:15. Are what I have labelled "states" and "activities" really telic? Or is your argument that they aren't perfect=resultative because they are really completive or involve negative polarity cases?

I should have rephrased. I meant: dynamic atelic predicates. I assumed that you already knew from our past conversations that I wasn't talking about states. My mistake.

I knew you had talked about active achievements, but when you said, "atelic," it sounded like you had more. It wasn't clear how much more.

MAubrey wrote:I'm also not denying anything is resultative. Everything that you think is resultative I likely view as resultative as well. Its just that where you're arguing "resultative-anterior," I'm arguing "resultative-completive."

I think that's basically right.

MAubrey wrote:For John 12:29, I don't understand why you think its an activity. There's been a clear change of state (=telic).

John 12:29 ἄγγελος αὐτῷ λελάληκεν. It's an activity because speaking (λαλέω) as with verbs of saying generally is an activity (see, e.g, Van Valin Jr. & LaPolla, Syntax, pp.116-118). I don't see any change of state (except in the fuzzy experiential sense that supports an anterior). If there is a "clear" change of state, please say what it is.

MAubrey wrote:The same goes for κέκραγεν. Did not John cry out something specific and referential? If it did, then its telic...even if we accept these perfects as involving an imperfective mismatch.

It may be bounded, but there's no change of state. (Of course, people use "telic" to mean somewhat different things....)

MAubrey wrote:This isn't to say that there isn't residue. I have maybe five dynamic atelic predicates. All of which we've talked about already in e-mail, I think. But the reside is so dramatically small in comparison to the rest that I

I'm afraid this sentence got cut off.

At any rate, I think it's important to nail down what you mean by "telic." Sometimes it is refers to a change of state, but sometimes you seem to extend it to include bounded or closed situations without a change of state. It makes a difference to me in how to evaluate your distributional claim that the Greek perfect does not allow for dynamic atelic predicates. If by "atelic," there's no change of state, then I think we have counter-examples. If by "atelic," you mean unbounded (activities), then the distributional argument is challenged by a language such as German that has an anterior perfect does not use it with unbounded activities, preferring instead the present (as does Greek, I would claim).
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Re: The Greek Perfect with Verbs of Speech

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 10th, 2013, 5:10 am

MAubrey wrote:As for negative polarity, that's another interesting distributional test for perfects and how they interact with activity predicates. There are three types of negation typologically, each defined on the basis of their scope:

(1) Nuclear Negation (Henry undid all of Suzie's efforts in less than an hour).
(2) Core Negation (Who ).
(3) Clause Negation (Henry did not work today).

The first is expressed lexically in both English and Greek, so its not relevant here, but the second two are highly relevant. Core negation, the negation of an argument, allows for an activity (dynamic & atelic) predicate to stay an activity predicate, but clause negation (the negation of the proposition as a whole) changes an activity predicate into a state. All the way back to Vendler, the basis distinction betwen states and non-states (i.e. static and dynamic predicates) has been that only the latter (non-states) can function to answer the question "What happened?" But a negated proposition is, by defintion, a non-happening. "Henry did not work today" is a state. We have been slaves to no one ever is a state. It does not answer "what happened." It cannot be done "vigorously" or "quickly."

All in all, if dynamic atelic predicates can be made perfects, then it should be possible to negate an argument rather than the entire proposition. I'm yet to have seen that. So that's another test (alongside what kinds of arguments can be questioned in perfects...which we talked about previously).

Now, as for John 8:33, you might be quick to point out that this clause is: καὶ οὐδενὶ δεδουλεύκαμεν πώποτε, and thus technically means: "We have been slaves to no one ever" rather than "We have not been slaves to anyone ever." Surely that's the negation of an argument, rather than of the clause. No, οὐδενὶ is not the negation of an argument it is a negative argument and negative arguments (i.e. lexical negation rather than grammatical) make a clause propositionally identical to clause negation and thus this clause is a state, rather than an activity. And as a state, it also happens to work as a nice example of BPP's discussion of states predicates.


Thanks for your discussion on negatives. There's a lot to digest here and there are some moves whose validity is not self-evident to me. I'll have to chew on this for a while. Of course, if there's literature you recommend on negatives and aspect, I would appreciate hearing about it.
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