Talking about the future in a past tense narrative text

David Lim
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Re: Talking about the future in a past tense narrative text

Post by David Lim » August 8th, 2014, 5:39 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
David Lim wrote:Thanks for that. I notice that on page 12 he says "Markopoulos explains this phenomenon in a similar manner: the AOR.INF continued to denote perfective value, while the PRES.INF could be used for both perfective and imperfective.". As I said before, I too think that the present tense in Koine Greek does not specify imperfective aspect but merely present time, and not just in the infinitive. In the case of the infinitive, the time in focus is usually the time of the infinitive itself, which is usually past time, and hence this is one reason I said that it would be difficult to distinguish the present infinitive and the aorist infinitive when not in an indirect statement.
Thanks for your comments, David, and for reading the paper. I have to admit though that I'm thoroughly confused by your comments. We're talking about the future-referring μέλλω, so claiming that the present infinitive specifies "merely present time" and then that "the time of the infinitive itself" is "usually past time" makes absolutely no sense to me in context. If it's not aspectual but time-referring, then how can it be past, present, and future?!?
Sorry I was unclear. As I had explained a bit in my earlier post, I am following my viewpoint that there is a focus time that can be shifted by both grammar and context, and that any time represented by verbs are relative to that. An aorist would be perfective and specify indefinite or past time, while a present would not specify aspect but would specify present time. An aorist infinitive in indirect statements (including reported speech) connotes past time relative to the time of the main verb, and likewise the present infinitive in indirect statements connotes present time relative to the time of the main verb. Apart from these, an aorist infinitive has no time connotation but has its perfective connotation, so it just denotes the bare completed event, while a present infinitive still denotes present time relative to the time in focus, in this case the time at which the event described by the infinitive is conceived to take place. Thus in effect there is no difference between the present infinitive and the aorist infinitive outside of indirect statements except that the aorist infinitive cannot have an imperfective connotation. It is therefore possible for an author to intentionally avoid the present infinitive whenever he wants a perfective connotation, but I don't think it would be the norm. Similarly the lexical aspect of the verb and the conceived aspect of the event may incline the author to use one or the other based on what Smyth says, but it may be just another partial influence.

Back to "μελλειν", indeed I said at the start that it refers to the future with respect to the time in focus. I don't know if there is specific grammatical syntax for "μελλειν" that eventually disappeared in Koine Greek, so I can only speculate as to why the present infinitive is much more commonly used with it. But I was claiming that it is not at all unnatural as according to my view the present tense does not connote aspect at all. Anyway my speculation is that since "μελλειν" sets the event in the future where it has not happened yet, there is a tendency to conceive of it from the viewpoint of its starting time, in much the same way as some present participles can be used as attributive adjectives, which I explained earlier by saying that the time in focus is pulled to the time at which the event takes place.
Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm also confused by the "too" in "I too think," since I can't find any support in Voitila (whose article I linked to). In fact, the whole point of Voitila is to propose modal meanings for μέλλω. So while you're going the tense route, Voitila's going mood. Thus, I don't see any basis for the "too": you seem to be arguing for a completely different approach.
Oh I was just saying that his quote of Markopoulos suggests that Markopoulos also thinks that the present infinitive can be used as a perfective, whereas I have been hearing others say that the present always denotes imperfective aspect. As you say, they did not propose anything similar to my view about time.
Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm also frustrated by Voitila here in his representation of Ruijgh in context with Markopoulos. On the quote from page 201 (PDF page 12), he claims that Markopoulos is similar to Ruijgh, but he's not. In checking the references that Voitila cites, I find that Markopoulos does not cite Ruijgh at all nor does he test Ruijgh's theory of μέλλω. Yes, Markopoulos does state " when used as a complement of μέλλω, the Present Infinitive was aspectually neutralized, i.e. it did not have a specific aspectual value," but this is not really the view of Ruijgh, who refers the value of the present infinitive with μέλλω to an "inceptive" present, which has a well-understood aspectual interpretation as an imperfective, though Ruijgh did not lay it out explicitly.
I don't know exactly what he is saying there, but according to my view, if the event with "μελλειν" is conceived as an inceptive imperfective as you say Ruijgh asserts, then it cannot be represented by the aorist which can only connote the perfective aspect. However, the converse would not hold, and so it is possible that the predominance of the present infinitive with "μελλειν" is not only due to aspect.
Stephen Carlson wrote:Furthermore, Markopoulos and Voitila's interpretation of the aspectuality of the present infinitive leaves a lot to be desired since they confuse (at least to me) aspect and Aktionsart. For example, Voitila claims that 2 Macc 7:18 καὶ μέλλων ἀποθνῄσκειν ἔφη ("and when he was about to die he said") is "clearly perfective," but the action of dying is not complete since he was still able to speak. Voitila needs an analysis more persuasive than slapping the adverb "clearly" on a conclusion that begs the question.
Doesn't he mean that the event referred to is the point at which he finally stops living?
Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm rather intrigued by Ruijgh's proposal for the meaning of μέλλω with the various kinds of infinitives (all are relative futures, but the present infinitive is imminent), but the proof of the pudding is in the eating and I'll need to work through the examples to test it. I also need to test Voitila's modal hypothesis for μέλλω. At this point, my mind is not made up.
Hmm what exactly would "imminent" mean? I thought all instances of "μελλειν" denote imminence or expectation?
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Re: Talking about the future in a past tense narrative text

Post by Stephen Carlson » August 8th, 2014, 9:11 am

David Lim wrote:Sorry I was unclear. As I had explained a bit in my earlier post, I am following my viewpoint that there is a focus time that can be shifted by both grammar and context, and that any time represented by verbs are relative to that. An aorist would be perfective and specify indefinite or past time, while a present would not specify aspect but would specify present time. An aorist infinitive in indirect statements (including reported speech) connotes past time relative to the time of the main verb, and likewise the present infinitive in indirect statements connotes present time relative to the time of the main verb. Apart from these, an aorist infinitive has no time connotation but has its perfective connotation, so it just denotes the bare completed event, while a present infinitive still denotes present time relative to the time in focus, in this case the time at which the event described by the infinitive is conceived to take place. Thus in effect there is no difference between the present infinitive and the aorist infinitive outside of indirect statements except that the aorist infinitive cannot have an imperfective connotation. It is therefore possible for an author to intentionally avoid the present infinitive whenever he wants a perfective connotation, but I don't think it would be the norm. Similarly the lexical aspect of the verb and the conceived aspect of the event may incline the author to use one or the other based on what Smyth says, but it may be just another partial influence.
Thanks for the explanation. There's a lot going on here and, to make things more difficult, it appears unique. Due to its uniqueness and complexity, I'm not at a point where I can say much about it, though. The concept of "time in focus" isn't very clear. If you're conceiving "time in focus" as a point in time instead of as an interval, then imperfective aspect and present tense mean pretty much the same thing, and thus the abandonment of aspect for the present stem lacks motiviation. I also don't see what motivates the distinction based on indirect statements.
David Lim wrote:Back to "μελλειν", indeed I said at the start that it refers to the future with respect to the time in focus. I don't know if there is specific grammatical syntax for "μελλειν" that eventually disappeared in Koine Greek, so I can only speculate as to why the present infinitive is much more commonly used with it. But I was claiming that it is not at all unnatural as according to my view the present tense does not connote aspect at all. Anyway my speculation is that since "μελλειν" sets the event in the future where it has not happened yet, there is a tendency to conceive of it from the viewpoint of its starting time, in much the same way as some present participles can be used as attributive adjectives, which I explained earlier by saying that the time in focus is pulled to the time at which the event takes place.
If aspect is not an explanation for the present infinitive, I don't think it helps to state that it denotes a "present time relative to the time in focus," when the time in focus can be moved around arbitrarily. It becomes unfalsiable at that point.
David Lim wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm also confused by the "too" in "I too think," since I can't find any support in Voitila (whose article I linked to). In fact, the whole point of Voitila is to propose modal meanings for μέλλω. So while you're going the tense route, Voitila's going mood. Thus, I don't see any basis for the "too": you seem to be arguing for a completely different approach.
Oh I was just saying that his quote of Markopoulos suggests that Markopoulos also thinks that the present infinitive can be used as a perfective, whereas I have been hearing others say that the present always denotes imperfective aspect. As you say, they did not propose anything similar to my view about time.
I see now.
David Lim wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm also frustrated by Voitila here in his representation of Ruijgh in context with Markopoulos. On the quote from page 201 (PDF page 12), he claims that Markopoulos is similar to Ruijgh, but he's not. In checking the references that Voitila cites, I find that Markopoulos does not cite Ruijgh at all nor does he test Ruijgh's theory of μέλλω. Yes, Markopoulos does state " when used as a complement of μέλλω, the Present Infinitive was aspectually neutralized, i.e. it did not have a specific aspectual value," but this is not really the view of Ruijgh, who refers the value of the present infinitive with μέλλω to an "inceptive" present, which has a well-understood aspectual interpretation as an imperfective, though Ruijgh did not lay it out explicitly.
I don't know exactly what he is saying there, but according to my view, if the event with "μελλειν" is conceived as an inceptive imperfective as you say Ruijgh asserts, then it cannot be represented by the aorist which can only connote the perfective aspect. However, the converse would not hold, and so it is possible that the predominance of the present infinitive with "μελλειν" is not only due to aspect.
No, Ruijgh is saying that the present infinitive with μέλλειν is inceptive, which is a recognized interpretation of the imperfective aspect. He does not claim (as far as I can tell) that the aorist infinitive with μέλλειν is inceptive.
David Lim wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:Furthermore, Markopoulos and Voitila's interpretation of the aspectuality of the present infinitive leaves a lot to be desired since they confuse (at least to me) aspect and Aktionsart. For example, Voitila claims that 2 Macc 7:18 καὶ μέλλων ἀποθνῄσκειν ἔφη ("and when he was about to die he said") is "clearly perfective," but the action of dying is not complete since he was still able to speak. Voitila needs an analysis more persuasive than slapping the adverb "clearly" on a conclusion that begs the question.
Doesn't he mean that the event referred to is the point at which he finally stops living?
He might be thinking that, but it's confused. The imperfective aspect can be used with events that come to a completetion (e.g. Achievements) when it refers to the process or state right before the completion happens (e.g. Mark 4:38 ἀπολλύμεθα). This is the usage that Ruijgh refers to as "inceptive." Voitila's argument needs to eliminate this interpretation before asserting that the present infinitive ἀποθνῄσκειν is "clearly perfective." Since he read Ruijgh, this oversight is rather unfortunate; perhaps he misunderstood him, since he does seem to equate Ruijgh and Markopoulos.
David Lim wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm rather intrigued by Ruijgh's proposal for the meaning of μέλλω with the various kinds of infinitives (all are relative futures, but the present infinitive is imminent), but the proof of the pudding is in the eating and I'll need to work through the examples to test it. I also need to test Voitila's modal hypothesis for μέλλω. At this point, my mind is not made up.
Hmm what exactly would "imminent" mean? I thought all instances of "μελλειν" denote imminence or expectation?
If I understand the proposal right, they all denote relative futurity while the instances with the present infinitive also denote imminence, a closer kind of futurity, e.g., being almost immediate.
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Re: Talking about the future in a past tense narrative text

Post by Stephen Carlson » August 8th, 2014, 2:11 pm

It occurs to me that not everyone here has access to Ruijgh or can read French, so here's my (rough) translation of the relevant part:
Ruijgh 1994 (tr. Carlson) wrote:Let us finally treat the choice of temporal stem for the infinitive dependent on μέλλω, a relative future auxiliary as opposed to the absolute future expressed by the sole form of the future stem.²³ In the classical era, the μέλλω with infinitive construction expresses the immediate relative future, which is explained by the inceptive value of the present stem: type ἔμελλε πάσχειν “he was at the point of (close to) suffering.” That with the future stem infinitive expresses the neutral relative future, which is to say without further specification: type ἔμελλε πείσεσθαι “he was going to (bound to) suffer.” That with the aorist stem infinitive is not very frequent (it is not found in the prose of the orators); it has a very marked value, which consists in signaling that the future realization moment is unpredictable: type ἔμελλε παθεῖν “he was bound to suffer one day, sooner or later.” In the vulgar language of the Hellenistic era, the future stem infinitive has fallen into disuse. Only in the Acts, whose language includes a relatively [363] elevated number of elements taken from classical Greek, one find three times μέλλειν ἔσεσθαι (11:28; 24:15; 27:10) in an infinitive clause dependent on a verb of speaking or thinking, a construction that has as well fallen into disuse in the vulgar language of the era. The fact that the verb εἰμι does not have an aorist stem available doubtlessly played a role there. Indeed, one normally finds in the NT the μέλλω with aorist stem infinitive construction in the cases where classical Greek would have made use of the future stem infinitive. The μέλλω with present stem infinitive construction is the most frequent in the NT. One has the impression that it expresses not only the immediate future but also the fairly near future as opposed to the aorist stem infinitive construction. According to Fanning (p. 398), the New Testament furnishes 84 occurrences of the present stem infinitive and 7 of the aorist stem infinitive dependent on μέλλω. Here are some examples: Matt 2:13 μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον ... “for Herod is close to looking for the little child”²⁴. Acts 12:6 ὅτε δὲ ἤμελλεν προαγαγεῖν αὐτὸν ὁ Ἡρῴδης “at the time when Herod was bound to make him appear” (the aorist stem προαγαγεῖν; classical Greek would have employed ἤμελλεν προάξειν); in the account, it concerns the night which precedes the day of trial: at that nocturnal moment, the action of “making him appear” no longer belonged to the near-at-hand future.

As opposed to the absolute future of the type γράψει “he will write,” the periphrasis of the type μέλλει γράψειν (future stem inf.) expressed in classical Greek that the prospect of writing exists in the present moment (primary ind. μέλλει), while it did not exist before: “now he will write,” “now he has made the decision to write.” In the NT, the expression includes the aorist stem infinitive. Example: Rev 3:16 μέλλω σε ἐμέσαι ἐκ τοῦ στόματός μου “I have now made the decision to vomit you from my mouth.”

Of course, the distinction between the fairly close future and the less close future is not of a purely chronological order: it is rather the personal evaluation of time of expectancy that decides the choice between the present stem and the aorist stem. In the eyes of the first Christians, the eschatological time was close, but they could not pinpoint it. That explains the use of aorist stem ἀποκαλυφθῆναι in the epistle of Paul to the Romans 8:18: … οὐκ ἄξια τὰ παθήματα τοῦ νῦν καιροῦ (“of present time”) πρὸς τὴν μέλλουσαν δόξαν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι εἰς ἡμᾶς (“the revelation of glory to come”). Compare Gal 3:23 πρὸ τοῦ δὲ ἐλθεῖν τὴν πίστιν ὑπὸ νόμου ἐφρουρούμεθα συγκλειόμενοι εἰς τὴν μέλλουσαν πίστιν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι (“before the coming of the faith … in view of the revelation of the faith to come”). Toward the end of the first epistle of Peter, by contrast, the eschatological is considered [364] near at hand: 4:7 πάντων δὲ τὸ τέλος ἤγγικεν; 4:17 ὅτι καιρὸς τοῦ ἄρξασθαι²⁵ τὸ κρίμα ἀπὸ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ θεου “because the time has come…” As the author has already insisted on the imminence of the eschatological time, he employs the present stem ἀποκαλύπτεσθαι in 5:1 πρεσβυτέρους ... παρακαλῶ ὁ συμπρεσβύτερος καὶ μάρτυς τῶν τοῦ Χριστοῦ παθημάτων, ὁ καὶ τῆς μελλούσης ἀποκαλύπτεσθαι δόξης κοινωνός (“the glory whose revelation is near at hand”).

We hope to have shown that the temporal stems of the Greek verb ably express temporal connections, both in classical Greek and in the NT, and that the ideas of Porter are unacceptable. It must also be added that even Fanning omits mentioning certain use of temporal order, e.g., the totalizing use of the perfect stem, the use of the perfect stem expressing the recent past, the inceptive value of the present stem imperative and the present stem infinitive dependent on ἄρχομαι and μέλλω. Let us repeat that the sole merit of Porter’s book consists in the furnishing of a vast bibliography.

Notes

23. For the details, see Mnem. 38 (1985), 48-51 and Lingua 65 (1985), 323-333.

24. Sometimes the present stem infinitive has a continuative nuance: Acts 20:38 ὅτι οὐκέτι μέλλουσιν τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ θεωρεῖν “that they would no longer see his face,” i.e., “that from then on, they would not continue to see his face.” This expanded expression ably translates the emotions of the Ephesians. In direct style, Paul used the more neutral expression: οὐκέτι ὄψεσθε τὸ πρόσωπόν μου (20:25).

25. The aorist stem ἄρξασθαι is explained by the fact that is concerns an earlier trial: it is after the judgment of the Christians that those who disobeyed would be judged (εἰ δὲ πρῶτον ἀφ’ ἡμῶν, τί τὸ τέλος τῶν ἀπειθούντων...; ).
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David Lim
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Re: Talking about the future in a past tense narrative text

Post by David Lim » August 9th, 2014, 12:22 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Thanks for the explanation. There's a lot going on here and, to make things more difficult, it appears unique. Due to its uniqueness and complexity, I'm not at a point where I can say much about it, though. The concept of "time in focus" isn't very clear. If you're conceiving "time in focus" as a point in time instead of as an interval, then imperfective aspect and present tense mean pretty much the same thing, and thus the abandonment of aspect for the present stem lacks motiviation. I also don't see what motivates the distinction based on indirect statements.
Yes I know that my view appears to be unique, so I appreciate that you spent the time to read and try to understand my explanations. I don't consider time in focus to be a point in time but rather an interval, and the event happens within that interval. The interval's length is determined by the current scope. For example the word "now" tends to restrict the time in focus to a smaller interval within the current time in focus. I don't think the present and future conjugations encode aspect but merely time. In contrast the imperfect stem encodes imperfective aspect while the aorist stem encodes perfective aspect, and together they cover past time. The aorist conjugation also covers indefinite time, which can be used for generic statements like 1 Pet 1:24. The present tense can also be used to convey the same meaning, but it has a different effect of shifting the time in focus to the time of the event itself, causing the audience to conceive of the situation in which the event actually happens right then, as opposed to an event that happens at a time removed from them.

I distinguish indirect statements from the rest because the time in focus just outside an indirect statement is the time in focus for the main verb, so on entering the indirect statement's scope the time of the infinitive is relative to the time of the main verb. The difference between this and the usual understanding is that I reject that the infinitive in indirect discourse encodes aspect at all. This is why the present infinitive in an indirect statement with an aorist main verb can correspond to an aorist or an imperfect. The aorist conjugation on the other hand encodes perfective aspect, and is thus naturally compatible with past events but can also be used for indefinite time. Because of this, when the aorist infinitive is not used in an indirect statement, there is no need to be able to encode relative time, and so it doesn't.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
David Lim wrote:Back to "μελλειν", indeed I said at the start that it refers to the future with respect to the time in focus. I don't know if there is specific grammatical syntax for "μελλειν" that eventually disappeared in Koine Greek, so I can only speculate as to why the present infinitive is much more commonly used with it. But I was claiming that it is not at all unnatural as according to my view the present tense does not connote aspect at all. Anyway my speculation is that since "μελλειν" sets the event in the future where it has not happened yet, there is a tendency to conceive of it from the viewpoint of its starting time, in much the same way as some present participles can be used as attributive adjectives, which I explained earlier by saying that the time in focus is pulled to the time at which the event takes place.
If aspect is not an explanation for the present infinitive, I don't think it helps to state that it denotes a "present time relative to the time in focus," when the time in focus can be moved around arbitrarily. It becomes unfalsiable at that point.
It's difficult to prove, but not exactly unfalsifiable. Firstly it cannot be shifted arbitrarily but only to some time that is somehow specified. A present verb can pull the time in focus to the time of its own event because it is consistent; the event happens at the present time relative to itself. On the other hand, an imperfect or future verb cannot shift the time in focus in the same manner because it would be a contradiction. A perfect verb used in a narrative account is not so common (John 2:9) but possible because the result is at the present time with respect to itself. Likewise, attributive present or perfect participles can be used for properties independent of the time of the main verb, but an aorist participle cannot. The shift also cannot contradict the semantic meaning, which is why "ηλθεν αυριον" is wrong since there is nothing for the event "ηλθεν αυριον" to be past relative to, nor can the aorist have indefinite time because of the semantic meaning of "αυριον". In contrast, both "ερχεται αυριον" (present relative to itself) and "ελευσεται αυριον" (future relative to the external time in focus) are fine.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
David Lim wrote:I don't know exactly what he is saying there, but according to my view, if the event with "μελλειν" is conceived as an inceptive imperfective as you say Ruijgh asserts, then it cannot be represented by the aorist which can only connote the perfective aspect. However, the converse would not hold, and so it is possible that the predominance of the present infinitive with "μελλειν" is not only due to aspect.
No, Ruijgh is saying that the present infinitive with μέλλειν is inceptive, which is a recognized interpretation of the imperfective aspect. He does not claim (as far as I can tell) that the aorist infinitive with μέλλειν is inceptive.
Yes I understood that, and I am saying that it is impossible to ascertain how much the choice of the present infinitive is due to aspect. If the particular event is conceived as an inceptive imperfective, then in my view the aorist infinitive cannot be used for it, since I maintain that the aorist cannot be used for imperfective aspect. However I believe the usual understanding is that the present infinitive must be imperfective, whereas I think that the present infinitive can be used in place of an aorist infinitive with "μελλειν" in many cases.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
David Lim wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:Furthermore, Markopoulos and Voitila's interpretation of the aspectuality of the present infinitive leaves a lot to be desired since they confuse (at least to me) aspect and Aktionsart. For example, Voitila claims that 2 Macc 7:18 καὶ μέλλων ἀποθνῄσκειν ἔφη ("and when he was about to die he said") is "clearly perfective," but the action of dying is not complete since he was still able to speak. Voitila needs an analysis more persuasive than slapping the adverb "clearly" on a conclusion that begs the question.
Doesn't he mean that the event referred to is the point at which he finally stops living?
He might be thinking that, but it's confused. The imperfective aspect can be used with events that come to a completetion (e.g. Achievements) when it refers to the process or state right before the completion happens (e.g. Mark 4:38 ἀπολλύμεθα). This is the usage that Ruijgh refers to as "inceptive." Voitila's argument needs to eliminate this interpretation before asserting that the present infinitive ἀποθνῄσκειν is "clearly perfective." Since he read Ruijgh, this oversight is rather unfortunate; perhaps he misunderstood him, since he does seem to equate Ruijgh and Markopoulos.
I think he did think it was obvious because there is already "μελλων" which is known to denote imminence, and so "αποθνησκειν" must refer to some particular imminent event, and the only relevant imminent event is the point at which he becomes dead and not the process of dying, since he was already dying when he spoke. At least this is what I assumed when I read his assertion.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
David Lim wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:I'm rather intrigued by Ruijgh's proposal for the meaning of μέλλω with the various kinds of infinitives (all are relative futures, but the present infinitive is imminent), but the proof of the pudding is in the eating and I'll need to work through the examples to test it. I also need to test Voitila's modal hypothesis for μέλλω. At this point, my mind is not made up.
Hmm what exactly would "imminent" mean? I thought all instances of "μελλειν" denote imminence or expectation?
If I understand the proposal right, they all denote relative futurity while the instances with the present infinitive also denote imminence, a closer kind of futurity, e.g., being almost immediate.
I took a brief look at Gildersleeve and Goodwin, which have quite a lot to say about these. I don't agree with certain parts, but I thought you would be interested in looking at their example citations especially:
http://perseus.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/phi ... monographs
http://perseus.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/phi ... Monographs
http://perseus.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/phi ... Monographs
http://perseus.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/phi ... Monographs
The second one contains a quote from Aristotle that makes a clear distinction between the present infinitive and aorist infinitive, but is it consistently true for other writers?
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Re: Talking about the future in a past tense narrative text

Post by Stephen Carlson » August 9th, 2014, 6:44 pm

David Lim wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:Thanks for the explanation. There's a lot going on here and, to make things more difficult, it appears unique. Due to its uniqueness and complexity, I'm not at a point where I can say much about it, though. The concept of "time in focus" isn't very clear. If you're conceiving "time in focus" as a point in time instead of as an interval, then imperfective aspect and present tense mean pretty much the same thing, and thus the abandonment of aspect for the present stem lacks motiviation. I also don't see what motivates the distinction based on indirect statements.
Yes I know that my view appears to be unique, so I appreciate that you spent the time to read and try to understand my explanations. I don't consider time in focus to be a point in time but rather an interval, and the event happens within that interval. The interval's length is determined by the current scope. For example the word "now" tends to restrict the time in focus to a smaller interval within the current time in focus. I don't think the present and future conjugations encode aspect but merely time. In contrast the imperfect stem encodes imperfective aspect while the aorist stem encodes perfective aspect, and together they cover past time. The aorist conjugation also covers indefinite time, which can be used for generic statements like 1 Pet 1:24. The present tense can also be used to convey the same meaning, but it has a different effect of shifting the time in focus to the time of the event itself, causing the audience to conceive of the situation in which the event actually happens right then, as opposed to an event that happens at a time removed from them.
There is a fairly common way today to approach tense and aspect using time intervals, but it seems that clear that you're doing something different than that, and I don't understand how the pieces are supposed to fit together. In particular, you state that "the imperfect stem encodes imperfective aspect while the aorist stem encodes perfective aspect" but at this point it is still necessary to flesh out what you mean by "encoding (im)perfective aspect." Equally important would be to flesh how do the two aspects correspond to this time interval of the "time in focus."

You claim to reject the common view that the present encodes imperfective aspect, but if your notions of aspect and the imperfective are different from the common view, then you're not really rejecting the common view but something else entirely, possibly a view that nobody in fact holds.
David Lim wrote:I distinguish indirect statements from the rest because the time in focus just outside an indirect statement is the time in focus for the main verb, so on entering the indirect statement's scope the time of the infinitive is relative to the time of the main verb. The difference between this and the usual understanding is that I reject that the infinitive in indirect discourse encodes aspect at all. This is why the present infinitive in an indirect statement with an aorist main verb can correspond to an aorist or an imperfect. The aorist conjugation on the other hand encodes perfective aspect, and is thus naturally compatible with past events but can also be used for indefinite time. Because of this, when the aorist infinitive is not used in an indirect statement, there is no need to be able to encode relative time, and so it doesn't.
OK. Let's nail down what you mean by encoding aspect in infinitives (within indirect discourse). You obviously reject that, but what exactly are you rejecting.
David Lim wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:
David Lim wrote:I don't know exactly what he is saying there, but according to my view, if the event with "μελλειν" is conceived as an inceptive imperfective as you say Ruijgh asserts, then it cannot be represented by the aorist which can only connote the perfective aspect. However, the converse would not hold, and so it is possible that the predominance of the present infinitive with "μελλειν" is not only due to aspect.
No, Ruijgh is saying that the present infinitive with μέλλειν is inceptive, which is a recognized interpretation of the imperfective aspect. He does not claim (as far as I can tell) that the aorist infinitive with μέλλειν is inceptive.
Yes I understood that, and I am saying that it is impossible to ascertain how much the choice of the present infinitive is due to aspect. If the particular event is conceived as an inceptive imperfective, then in my view the aorist infinitive cannot be used for it, since I maintain that the aorist cannot be used for imperfective aspect. However I believe the usual understanding is that the present infinitive must be imperfective, whereas I think that the present infinitive can be used in place of an aorist infinitive with "μελλειν" in many cases.
I think you are confusing or at the very least equating Aktionsart and aspect. In particular, your statement "the particular event is conceived as an inceptive imperfective" appears to conflate them (the first half sounds like Aktionsart, the second half sounds like aspect). But without a clear understanding of what you mean by aspect, I can't really tell. I think this related to the next issue:

(Unnesting the quotations here, to get around the 3-level maximum quotation nesting rule:)
Stephen Carlson wrote:Furthermore, Markopoulos and Voitila's interpretation of the aspectuality of the present infinitive leaves a lot to be desired since they confuse (at least to me) aspect and Aktionsart. For example, Voitila claims that 2 Macc 7:18 καὶ μέλλων ἀποθνῄσκειν ἔφη ("and when he was about to die he said") is "clearly perfective," but the action of dying is not complete since he was still able to speak. Voitila needs an analysis more persuasive than slapping the adverb "clearly" on a conclusion that begs the question.
David Lim wrote:Doesn't he mean that the event referred to is the point at which he finally stops living?
Stephen Carlson wrote:He might be thinking that, but it's confused. The imperfective aspect can be used with events that come to a completetion (e.g. Achievements) when it refers to the process or state right before the completion happens (e.g. Mark 4:38 ἀπολλύμεθα). This is the usage that Ruijgh refers to as "inceptive." Voitila's argument needs to eliminate this interpretation before asserting that the present infinitive ἀποθνῄσκειν is "clearly perfective." Since he read Ruijgh, this oversight is rather unfortunate; perhaps he misunderstood him, since he does seem to equate Ruijgh and Markopoulos.
David Lim wrote:I think he did think it was obvious because there is already "μελλων" which is known to denote imminence, and so "αποθνησκειν" must refer to some particular imminent event, and the only relevant imminent event is the point at which he becomes dead and not the process of dying, since he was already dying when he spoke. At least this is what I assumed when I read his assertion.
The characteristics of an event is Aktionsart. Conceptualizing an event as complete or incomplete is aspect. The verbal root refers to the dying event; the imperfective aspect conceptualizes it as incomplete, e.g., Ruijgh's inceptive for Achievement events like dying. In the context here, the dying conceptualized by ἀποθνῄσκειν is not complete because dead people can't speak.

Ruijgh is not claiming that μέλλω ἀποθνῄσκειν means "I am about to be (but not yet) in the process of dying." I'll have to check his prior publications to be sure, but the reasoning seems more like: as an imperfective ἀποθνῄσκειν has a number of aspectual meanings, one of which is inceptive. (In fact, this is the usual meaning of the present stem ἀποθνῄσκειν.) μέλλειν selects this particular meaning of the imperfective and constrains the time frame to be imminent. As a result, there is no need on this evidence to claim that the aspect is neutralized per Markopoulos, whom Voitila mischaracterized as being "similar" to Ruijgh.
David Lim wrote:I took a brief look at Gildersleeve and Goodwin, which have quite a lot to say about these. I don't agree with certain parts, but I thought you would be interested in looking at their example citations especially:
These older scholars come from a time that routinely confounded Aktionart and aspect. One has to be very careful in reading them. In fact, it may even appear that your usage of (im)perfective and aspect is more consistent with past usage than with present usage, which could explain why I have a hard time relating your views to what contemporary scholars are saying..
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Re: Talking about the future in a past tense narrative text

Post by David Lim » August 11th, 2014, 12:17 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:There is a fairly common way today to approach tense and aspect using time intervals, but it seems that clear that you're doing something different than that, and I don't understand how the pieces are supposed to fit together. In particular, you state that "the imperfect stem encodes imperfective aspect while the aorist stem encodes perfective aspect" but at this point it is still necessary to flesh out what you mean by "encoding (im)perfective aspect." Equally important would be to flesh how do the two aspects correspond to this time interval of the "time in focus."

You claim to reject the common view that the present encodes imperfective aspect, but if your notions of aspect and the imperfective are different from the common view, then you're not really rejecting the common view but something else entirely, possibly a view that nobody in fact holds.
I am using (what I think is) the conventional meaning of "perfective" and "imperfective". I recognize that each possible semantic meaning of a verb has an intrinsic lexical aspect (aktionsart), and the grammatical conjugation that the speaker chooses to use for it must be compatible with that. For example, we cannot say "I am realizing what you mean at last." in English, because the particular semantic meaning of "realize" that is used here is incompatible with the present progressive. My "time in focus" is an interval of time, within which lies the event, which I consider to be also an interval of time. The event may be a point event (such as intended in the above example) or with a duration, but the imperfective aspect cannot be used with point events. The speaker decides on a final aspect based on the way he wants to convey the event, and chooses the grammatical aspect accordingly. The audience processes the context, the semantics of the verb and the grammatical conjugation to infer the aspect that the speaker intended to convey. When there is a conflict (as in the example), then they would usually assume that a grammatical mistake had been made.

I understand most references to claim that the present stem encodes imperfective aspect, which include the continuous, progressive, habitual, inceptive... I think however that the present stem does not encode aspect at all. Whether it is predominantly the case that the speaker used the present conjugation and intended the final aspect to be imperfective is another matter altogether. In other words, I do not think that the present conjugation signals the imperfective aspect.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
David Lim wrote:I distinguish indirect statements from the rest because the time in focus just outside an indirect statement is the time in focus for the main verb, so on entering the indirect statement's scope the time of the infinitive is relative to the time of the main verb. The difference between this and the usual understanding is that I reject that the infinitive in indirect discourse encodes aspect at all. This is why the present infinitive in an indirect statement with an aorist main verb can correspond to an aorist or an imperfect. The aorist conjugation on the other hand encodes perfective aspect, and is thus naturally compatible with past events but can also be used for indefinite time. Because of this, when the aorist infinitive is not used in an indirect statement, there is no need to be able to encode relative time, and so it doesn't.
OK. Let's nail down what you mean by encoding aspect in infinitives (within indirect discourse). You obviously reject that, but what exactly are you rejecting.
Let me use Smyth's statements to illustrate how my viewpoint differs.
(1) Smyth 1865(a) says that the present infinitive not in indirect discourse denotes continuance as a stage of action and have no time of itself, the effective time being that of the leading verb, which depends on the context. I say on the other hand that the present infinitive does not encode continuance, and so can be used for either continuous or non-continuous events, and it encodes present time relative to the time in focus. You may find the latter to be hard to verify or falsify but I hope my earlier explanation is clear enough in delineating how the time in focus can or cannot be shifted.
(2) Smyth 1865(b) says that the aorist infinitive not in indirect discourse denotes simple occurrence, which I agree with except that I extend this to indirect statements of other kinds and not just indirect discourse.
(3) Smyth 1866 says that the tenses (present, aorist, future) of the infinitive in indirect discourse denote the time (current, before, after) relative to that of the leading verb. He does not say whether these infinitives encode aspect. I say that they don't.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
David Lim wrote:Yes I understood that, and I am saying that it is impossible to ascertain how much the choice of the present infinitive is due to aspect. If the particular event is conceived as an inceptive imperfective, then in my view the aorist infinitive cannot be used for it, since I maintain that the aorist cannot be used for imperfective aspect. However I believe the usual understanding is that the present infinitive must be imperfective, whereas I think that the present infinitive can be used in place of an aorist infinitive with "μελλειν" in many cases.
I think you are confusing or at the very least equating Aktionsart and aspect. In particular, your statement "the particular event is conceived as an inceptive imperfective" appears to conflate them (the first half sounds like Aktionsart, the second half sounds like aspect). But without a clear understanding of what you mean by aspect, I can't really tell. I think this related to the next issue:
When I say "conceived" I meant the final aspect intended, which will of course have to agree with the lexical aspect of the chosen meaning of the verb. My understanding is that a verb can have multiple semantic meanings which may differ from one another in their lexical aspect. For example "realize" usually denotes an achievement but can in special cases denote an activity ("I gradually realized over the years that ..."). The way the event is conceived of can result in the speaker's choice of a different semantic meaning, even if the resulting speech is identical.
Stephen Carlson wrote:The characteristics of an event is Aktionsart. Conceptualizing an event as complete or incomplete is aspect. The verbal root refers to the dying event; the imperfective aspect conceptualizes it as incomplete, e.g., Ruijgh's inceptive for Achievement events like dying. In the context here, the dying conceptualized by ἀποθνῄσκειν is not complete because dead people can't speak.

Ruijgh is not claiming that μέλλω ἀποθνῄσκειν means "I am about to be (but not yet) in the process of dying." I'll have to check his prior publications to be sure, but the reasoning seems more like: as an imperfective ἀποθνῄσκειν has a number of aspectual meanings, one of which is inceptive. (In fact, this is the usual meaning of the present stem ἀποθνῄσκειν.) μέλλειν selects this particular meaning of the imperfective and constrains the time frame to be imminent. As a result, there is no need on this evidence to claim that the aspect is neutralized per Markopoulos, whom Voitila mischaracterized as being "similar" to Ruijgh.
But how do you know that the present tense "αποθνησκειν" is always imperfective? I was saying that I think Ruijgh was claiming that "μέλλων ἀποθνῄσκειν" meant "being about to stop living" from the context, and then back-inferring that "αποθνησκειν" must here be the point event "stop living" and hence be perfective. Anyway I don't think spending time on Ruijgh's example is really worth it since it's not clear to either of us what exactly he means.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
David Lim wrote:I took a brief look at Gildersleeve and Goodwin, which have quite a lot to say about these. I don't agree with certain parts, but I thought you would be interested in looking at their example citations especially:
These older scholars come from a time that routinely confounded Aktionart and aspect. One has to be very careful in reading them. In fact, it may even appear that your usage of (im)perfective and aspect is more consistent with past usage than with present usage, which could explain why I have a hard time relating your views to what contemporary scholars are saying..
Actually I only rarely look at them. Anyway I'm sorry if my terminology is confusing. Also, I'm now getting very busy and may not have the time to reply so soon. So take your time! :)
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Re: Talking about the future in a past tense narrative text

Post by Stephen Carlson » August 12th, 2014, 9:19 am

David Lim wrote:I am using (what I think is) the conventional meaning of "perfective" and "imperfective".
Well, not to me. In fact, it seems to me that your terminology and the authorities that you cite (Smyth, Goodwin. Gildersleeve, whom you oddly claim not to follow), all come from an era that confused Aktionsart and aspect. As a result, your rejection of the position that the present stem (not "conjugation") is imperfective is not really relevant to the ongoing conversation about tense and aspect in Greek. The terms and the concepts just don't line up. I realize that you are too busy to clarify it further, so I'm willing to leave it there.
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Re: Talking about the future in a past tense narrative text

Post by Shirley Rollinson » August 16th, 2014, 10:45 pm

David Lim wrote: - - - snip snip - - -

Off-topic, I'm more of a lumper so I would not separate the usages of "can/must/will" into deontic or epistemic as the author did on page 7. Consider his examples again:
(3) John may be in his office.
(4) John must be in his office.
(5) John will be in his office.

His analysis is not complete because these three could mean either what he implied:
(3) It is possible that John is in his office.
(4) It is certain that John is in his office.
(5) I suppose that John will be in his office.

Or it could mean something different:
(3) It is allowed for John to be in his office.
(4) It is necessary for John to be in his office.
(5) It is required for John to be in his office.

My view considers all these and more as a result of the interaction between the basic meaning of the modal verbs and the context:
(3) may: denotes possibility
(4) must: denotes necessity
(5) will: denotes eventuality
All three cases apply whether it is inferred or desired or permitted.

The context such as the verb or the use of "now" may restrict it to desire or permission as in (1) and (2), but it is a subtle interaction of meanings as the following show:
(1) John may come in now. (permission)
(1') John may come in any time now. (statement)
(2) John must come in now. (obligation)
(2') John must be coming in now. (inference)
Case (5) (John will be in his office) , if we want to be really nit-picky about (British) English grammar, is the neutral statement of a future action. To denote necessity or a requirement, it would be "John shall be in his office" (equivalent of a third person imperative).
will/shall is tricky, because it switches between first person and other persons (reflecting the "will" of the subject)
The way I was taught to remember it is the story of the man who was being swept away by a river, and was shouting "I will drown - no-one shall save me!" - So they let him drown :-)
because what he should have shouted was "I shall drown, no-one will save me!"
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