The Cambridge Greek Verb Conference

Stephen Carlson
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Re: The Cambridge Greek Verb Conference

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 26th, 2015, 8:59 pm

Chris Thomson wrote:This discussion has just come to my attention and I would like to advocate reading the papers themselves when they are published in a few months’ time (DV) and reserving judgment until then.
Thanks for your comments. Of course, I'll reserve judgment until your paper is published, where the argument is laid out more fully. As for metaphor, it is a fundamental part of human cognition and probably impossible to avoid ultimately. That said, some metaphors work better than others.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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nicholasj.ellis
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Re: The Cambridge Greek Verb Conference

Post by nicholasj.ellis » March 26th, 2016, 2:41 pm

As a followup to this thread, an expanded version of the Cambridge verb conference and then the ETS conference was published in JETS this month. Download available here.

https://www.academia.edu/23593842/The_G ... 2016_33_62

Thanks for the previous comments on the perfect/combinative/stative aspect, Stephen Carleson. We'd disagree on the nature of reduplication (I see it is as a historically imperfective marker and you don't, obviously). However, perhaps the largest hanging question coming out of this study is how we should distinguish between the "perfect"/stative/combinative aspect, and the tense-laden past/non-past binary options (perfect and pluperfect) in the indicative. I'm arguing that we shouldn't muddy the terminology applying a tense category to an aspectual category; for this reason we coin the term combinative.

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Re: The Cambridge Greek Verb Conference

Post by Stephen Carlson » March 26th, 2016, 10:54 pm

nicholasj.ellis wrote:As a followup to this thread, an expanded version of the Cambridge verb conference and then the ETS conference was published in JETS this month. Download available here.

https://www.academia.edu/23593842/The_G ... 2016_33_62

Thanks for the previous comments on the perfect/combinative/stative aspect, Stephen Carleson. We'd disagree on the nature of reduplication (I see it is as a historically imperfective marker and you don't, obviously). However, perhaps the largest hanging question coming out of this study is how we should distinguish between the "perfect"/stative/combinative aspect, and the tense-laden past/non-past binary options (perfect and pluperfect) in the indicative. I'm arguing that we shouldn't muddy the terminology applying a tense category to an aspectual category; for this reason we coin the term combinative.
Now that the published article is out, it is exactly as I feared: a good point buried beneath a bunch of question begging about the diachronic and synchronic aspects about the verbal morphosyntax, especially regarding the perfect. It's not necessary and it obscures the salutary aspects of the article. Actually, the dearth of engagement with the secondary literature on this point makes it worse than I feared. I just cannot recommend it, despite my sympathy to the overall thesis.
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Re: The Cambridge Greek Verb Conference

Post by nicholasj.ellis » March 27th, 2016, 12:16 am

Thanks for this, Stephen. You'll have to give more detail given how vigorously you oppose the article! Though it might be best to post your thoughts here: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... =10&t=3637

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Re: The Cambridge Greek Verb Conference

Post by Stephen Carlson » March 27th, 2016, 12:56 am

nicholasj.ellis wrote:Thanks for this, Stephen. You'll have to give more detail given how vigorously you oppose the article! Though it might be best to post your thoughts here: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... =10&t=3637
The detail is posted last year in this thread. Nothing's really changed.
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MAubrey
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Re: The Cambridge Greek Verb Conference

Post by MAubrey » March 27th, 2016, 6:58 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
nicholasj.ellis wrote:Thanks for this, Stephen. You'll have to give more detail given how vigorously you oppose the article! Though it might be best to post your thoughts here: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... =10&t=3637
The detail is posted last year in this thread. Nothing's really changed.
Don't be lazy, Stephen, you can at least link to the actual post rather than making people dig through an entire thread.
Stephen Carlson wrote:I think I'm going to skip over the discourse stuff (sorry Steve Runge and Mark Dubis), and treat the next item in aspectology:
Nick Ellis (BibleMesh) – Aspect-Prominence, Morpho-Syntax, and a Cognitive Framework for the Greek Verb
  1. Tense-prominent framework is correct for English but is fundamentally flawed for Greek, structurally, semantically, and terminologically. Fails to reflect the essential organizational and cognitive framework of the language.
  2. Languages emphasize either tense, aspect, or mood. Greek is aspect-prominence.
  3. Tense = deals with situations’ relative location in time, esp. past, present, future
  4. Aspect = situation’s internal structure, usually in terms of being bounded (self-contained) or unbounded (uncontained). Manner and extent to which time unfolds with respect to a situation. Greek has imperfective (assumes an event has begun but makes no reference to beginning or conclusion) and perfective (views event as a whole including beginning, middle, end), and combinative (a mix of both).
  5. Mood = deals with irrealis modality, e.g., possibility, necessity, etc.
  6. Verbal prominence does not mean (a) the prominent category is more strongly expressed at all times or (b) the other categories are unimportant. Rather, it deals with the extent to which the central category provides the primary concept around which the verbal system is structured.
  7. Classifying prominence
    1. Degree to which the category is grammaticalized or encoded in the morphology of the verb
    2. Formation of a complete paradigm
    3. Pervasive and obligatory
    4. Degree to which the non-prominent features recede outside the indicative
  8. In Greek:
    1. Tense is important only indicative
    2. Mood is important only in subjunctive, optative, etc.
    3. Aspect is important in all moods, tenses, and voices
  9. In English:
    1. Tense is encoded in the morphology (e.g., -ed suffix)
    2. Aspect and mood are expressed with helping words and are, thus, less central (b/c less grammaticalized)
  10. Greek aspect is a three part system: perfective, imperfective, and (arguably) combinative (also called stative).
  11. Aspect system in Greek (in order of appearance in the morphology of a verb
    1. Tense indicator (indicative mood only)
    2. Aspect prefix for imperfective
    3. Lexical core (never used by itself)
    4. Aspect prefix for perfective
    5. Personal ending
  12. Past/non-past augment is only relevant in the indicative, but aspect shows up across everything.
  13. Sum: aspect is more grammaticalized, paradigmatic, pervasive, and obligatory (than tense and mood) in the Greek verbal system. It differs from English in a big way, and this must be take into account in pedagogy, etc.
  14. Why the confusion? All major grammars of Greek have been written in tense-prominent languages (English, German, French), thus implicitly leading authors to emphasize tense.
  15. Teaching students within an aspectually prominent verbal system offers a way to help students deal with the cloud of inconsistent categorization.
I understand Ellis's presentation basically as an application of D. N. S. Bhat's work in his The Prominence of Tense, Aspect and Mood (1999). I like that work too and I recommend it, and it's good to see it applied to Greek.

The biggest beef I have here is how he constructs the perfect as imperfective + perfective in terms of morphology (cf. his name "combinative"). (Buth is similar on this too.) While it might have some validity in late Proto-Indo-European (much remains obscure, however), I don't buy it as a good depiction of the state of affairs within Greek. In Greek, the reduplicating prefix of the perfect is not imperfective (§ 11.2), but part of the perfect. There is non-perfect imperfective use of this morpheme (though there is an unproductive fossilized reduplicating prefix with a different vowel (ι instead of ε). I assume also that the aspectual prefix for the perfective is meant to include not only the σ for the sigmatic aorist but also the κ of the perfect (and a few aorists). I think we just don't know enough about the etymology of this kappa to sustain the equation (personally I'm inclined to view to them as possibly hardened laryngeals of independent origins), and, even if the etymology should happen to be right, which I doubt, the kappa is simply not a productive marker of the aorist. Plus, the perfect middle doesn't even have its kappa, as well as various active second perfects. The only way I can recommend this morphological calculus is that it might be a useful mnemonic for some students, but as part of a synchronic description, I just cannot endorse it.
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MAubrey
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Re: The Cambridge Greek Verb Conference

Post by MAubrey » March 27th, 2016, 7:43 pm

Stephen, I think you set your own expectations way too high. Satisfying your complaint would need to a full article in its own right and that goes well beyond the purpose we set out to fulfill. Besides, do you really think that such a discussion would ever have fit the audience of JETS???

Seriously?
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: The Cambridge Greek Verb Conference

Post by Stephen Carlson » March 27th, 2016, 8:49 pm

MAubrey wrote:Stephen, I think you set your own expectations way too high. Satisfying your complaint would need to a full article in its own right and that goes well beyond the purpose we set out to fulfill. Besides, do you really think that such a discussion would ever have fit the audience of JETS???

Seriously?
I am serious that no peer-reviewed, published article should be actively misleading about the state of affairs in a field. The fact of the matter is that the diachrony of the perfect formatives is far more controversial than the article lets on and the reader will be misinformed as a result, not only about the facts (which are in dispute) but that there is a strong dispute in the first place. Furthermore, I don't think the diachrony is necessary to apply Bhat's typology to Greek. So if navigating the controversy is too much for the readership and it's not really needed in the end, that's a good sign that it doesn't belong in the paper at all.
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nicholasj.ellis
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Re: The Cambridge Greek Verb Conference

Post by nicholasj.ellis » March 27th, 2016, 10:39 pm

Certainly, Stephen, this article was functioning as a high-level position paper on the over-all aspect prominence of the Greek verb and its related morphology (a viewpoint shared by a good number of the contributors to the book), and was not an exhaustive examination focused on the so-called stative/perfect/combinative forms.

The essential position we're defending regarding the perfect is that the semantics of the "perfect/stative/combinative" aspect include a logically anterior perfective event which has temporally subsequent relevance beyond the event. The semantic relationship is not as simple as perfective+imperfective=combinative; rather, this third aspect offers something altogether semantically unique in comparison to the other two aspects. We are also arguing that the semantics of this form are reflected in the verb's morphology (and cited previous studies by Buth, Runge, etc. that provided significantly greater detail that we had space to offer as to this form/function pairing). Further, we argued that the "combinative" aspect is communicated via a unique aspectual stem (in contra-distinction to the perfective and imperfective aspects), manifesting both in irrealis forms, and in the past and non-past tense-forms of the indicative. Finally, we also noted that scholars such as Cambell, Porter, etc. would certainly disagree with our reading of this aspect (though I think we found that Fanning ended up expressing general sympathy for this notion during the ETS conference presentation).

So just to be clear, Stephen, your issue with the diachrony is that, according to your understanding of the morphology, the reduplication is "part of the perfect", rather than a marker of "imperfective aspect". I'm taking your term "perfect" here to mean the aspect stem, rather than the tense-form. We're likewise arguing that the reduplication in this aspect-stem is part of the "perfect stem", yes, but, are arguing that, in marking the continue relevance of the event, it reflects something similar to the imperfective reduplication found in μι-verb reduplication. I'm not at all sure that the μι-verb reduplication is controversial as a marker of imperfectivity, and we are suggesting that similar (though not identical) reduplication is marking the continued relevance within the combinative aspect.

You may consider this morphological argument for the perfect/stative/combinative morphology to be beyond the pale for us to espouse in a peer-reviewed journal. Without question it's one of the more original morpho-syntactical suggestions discussed both in the book, the article, and in various position papers from our fellow contributors. I don't think it's an untested theory, however, and I think it does have explanatory power. The danger is in oversimplifying the nature of perfective+imperfective semantics, and we're well aware that it's not as simple as 1+1=2.

In the end, however, I think that mulling (briefly) on the specific morphology of this "third aspect" offered something new to the discussion, extending the morphology along the lines of Bhat's typology. This wasn't the focal point of the paper, but is something that should be considered, in our opinion. We're happy for the resulting discussion to be as incisive as necessary, to "get it right", rather than "being right" on this or any of the argued points.

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Re: The Cambridge Greek Verb Conference

Post by Stephen Carlson » March 28th, 2016, 1:40 am

Nick, there's a lot to like in your paper--don't get me wrong--but my misgivings over the morphological analysis and the failure to substantiate its claims in the Indo-Europeanist literature (generally because it is not to be found) makes it impossible for me to recommend as a whole. I will cite it for the good parts, of course, but I cannot in good faith recommend it as a whole to non-specialists because they will get the wrong idea about the origin of the perfect's morphological formatives. On top of all that, I don't even see the morphological argument necessary to the general point.

I made these points here last year, and the published paper does nothing to allay my concerns. Now, I don't expect my comments on a bulletin board forum to be reflected in a published article (though it is generally better to fix problems before publication rather than after). On the other hand, the paper does not give me any new evidence or citations to rethink my position. No one should be surprised that I'm still not happy with it.
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Melbourne, Australia

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