Tense-Aspect (esp. Future) in Non-Indicative Moods

Re: Tense-Aspect (esp. Future) in Non-Indicative Moods

Postby nicholasj.ellis » February 27th, 2013, 2:16 pm

Mike wrote:
Well, the easy answer is to say that the stem isn't imperfective. What marks imperfective aspect in the regular thematic paradigm is the lack of marking--i.e. the lack of the sigma or kappa. So if the sigma is there, then its perfective. If the sigma is not there then its imperfective.


That's beautiful. :idea:


It sounds like you're ending up in the right place. Future forms, cross-linguistically, tend toward muddledness. This is true even in English, where on the one hand the form clearly denotes Future tense in its most prototypical usage, but on the other hand it actually eixsts functionally and paradigmatically in the Modal system. In terms of the actual formal features, English is a language with a past vs. non-past verbal system, even though we native speakers clearly (and rightly) recognize having past, "present" and future tenses.

In terms of Greek, there are two views of the original of the future. It's either derived from the Proto-Indo-European desiderative suffix *-s which looked identical to the current aorist and subjunctive forms. Or its derived from the aorist or aorist subjunctive. Despite the views of some, there is no consensus on the question, though many of the desiderative people like to think there is. Jo Willmott's The Moods of Homeric Greek (2005) gives a recent argument against the desiderative hypothesis. Personally, I'm inclined toward David Lightfoot's observation in his 1975 monograph Natural Logic and the Greek Moods, when he said that there is really no clear way of choosing between the two historical options.

But all of that, in a sense, is water under the bridge. For the Koine period, what really matter is how the native speakers comprehended the form who, when learning the language as toddlers, don't get any of that history explained to them. The system is recreated every generation. Ontogeny does indeed recapitulate phylogeny, but which phylogeny? That is to say, the process of language learning parallel the process of language evolution, but there are multiple paths of grammaticalization to get to a Future tense: Modals, Perfectives, lexical items denoting movement, temporal adverbs, etc.

All of this connects closely to the question tense in relationship to mood. We like to make a big deal of the fact that there's no past tense outside the indicative in Greek, while ignoring the fact that the past tense isn't possible in non-indicative moods for English either. We cannot say "You should went to the store for milk" any more than a Greek could." But like Greek, we can say "You will go to the store for milk" and without a context not be sure whether the sentence is referentially future referring (go there tomorrow), imperative (commanded to go there), or modal (obligated to go there).


I'd say that actually contributed a great deal, in very clear form. Thank you, Mike.
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Re: Tense-Aspect (esp. Future) in Non-Indicative Moods

Postby serunge » February 27th, 2013, 2:38 pm

Nick wrote:
These non-redundant semantic markers for the Future include irrealis/desiritive modality and intentionality (none of which are embedded within the semantics of its aspectual partner, the Aorist).


For the purposes of teaching (and maybe otherwise), I'd be inclined to take one of these and explain the others as pragmatic effects of the context. So if irrealis indicates that something has not happened, it might be future time, it might be hypothetical or a command, etc. All of the latter are possibilities of the former. It is not that all of these different things are signaled, merely possible based on the non-indicative and non-past. You can get a future time with a non-past present or perfect tense-form by adding the right adverb, but modal connotations are a different matter. The future eliminates the "contiguous time" possibility, but opens the door for the modal implicatures. I'd suggest grabbing the one that can explain or account for the others under one umbrella, and explain the others as contextual effects or implicatures.
Steve Runge
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Re: Tense-Aspect (esp. Future) in Non-Indicative Moods

Postby nicholasj.ellis » February 27th, 2013, 2:43 pm

Steve, I'll happily admit that your use earlier in this thread was the first time I'd come across realis/irrealis terminology.

As I've read more on this yesterday and today what you just stated makes a lot of sense, though I'm not knowledgeable enough in defining 'irrealis' in all of its various connotations or pragmatic effects to use that term with any confidence. Thanks for setting me on this, it seems to be a valuable way of thinking about and describing the combinations of modality/desiribility/intentionality etc.
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Re: Tense-Aspect (esp. Future) in Non-Indicative Moods

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 27th, 2013, 2:48 pm

MAubrey wrote:Jo Willmott's The Moods of Homeric Greek (2005)


Oh great, another book I have to read. Good thing I was just about to get into mood.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: Tense-Aspect (esp. Future) in Non-Indicative Moods

Postby serunge » February 27th, 2013, 3:02 pm

Nick,

I'd suggest reading a bit of DNS Bhat's The Prominence of Tense, Aspect and Mood. He does a brilliant job of practically explaining how aspect and mood, for instance, can blend in messy ways. He would describe English as a tense-prominent language and Greek as aspect-prominent. This is not to say that the other members of the trinity are not present, but simply to observe that they will be trumped by the dominant member. His description of the perfect in a mood-prominent language vs. an aspect-prominent one vs. a tense-prominent one won me over, very helpful. I do not own the book (one of the $1/page from John Benjamins), but you should be able to find that section in the index. It was in the introduction.
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