Grammaticalization of tense?

Grammar questions which are not related to any specific text.
WAnderson
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Grammaticalization of tense?

Post by WAnderson » September 18th, 2017, 11:26 pm

What does it mean to "grammaticalize" tense or aspect (for example, as opposed to Aktionsart)? I'm hoping for a fairly simple answer, since other explanations I've read seem to quickly get bogged down with technical terminology.
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MAubrey
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Re: Grammaticalization of tense?

Post by MAubrey » September 19th, 2017, 9:10 am

It just means that tense has a marker in the morphology of the verb--a suffix or prefix--in this case, it would be the augment and secondary endings that mark past tense.
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WAnderson
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Re: Grammaticalization of tense?

Post by WAnderson » September 19th, 2017, 5:45 pm

Thanks, Mike. Still a little unclear, though. I probably should have included an example quote in order to frame my question, which I'll do here:
I have suggested that the verb tenses in Revelation should be seen as grammaticalizing the semantic category of verbal aspect, rather than time or Aktionsart. When examined from the standpoint of verbal aspect it becomes clear that the author chose verb tense forms for reasons other than temporal ones (D. Mathewson, Verbal Aspect in the Book of Revelation, [Brill 2010] 173).
In this example, what exactly does he mean by "grammaticalizing," as opposed to temporal considerations?
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WAnderson
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Re: Grammaticalization of tense?

Post by WAnderson » September 19th, 2017, 8:01 pm

I think the light came on. For English speakers it's difficult to think of "tense" in anything but temportal terms (past, present, future). But "aspectual" tense deals with perspective rather than time. Therefore, according to this theory, Greek tense is a morphological (grammatical) phenomenon rather than a temporal one. In this sense, the different tenses that might occur within a narrative are a function of what's more or less important from the speaker's point of view rather than an objective statement of what happened when.

Am I on the right track?
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: Grammaticalization of tense?

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » September 20th, 2017, 3:01 am

WAnderson wrote:
September 19th, 2017, 8:01 pm
Greek tense is a morphological (grammatical) phenomenon rather than a temporal one.
Rather "aspect (internal temporal constituency) is a morphological phenomenon in (Koine) Greek but tense (location in time) is not". But I don't agree with that statement and neither does Mike Aubrey as far as I know.

One real problem is that "tense" can mean two things in these discussions: either a set of grammatical forms or linguistic tense (location in time - past, present, future). This may lead to many misunderstandings. Your sentence quoted above may be understood as a misunderstanding or not and therefore is to be avoided.
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: Grammaticalization of tense?

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » September 20th, 2017, 3:05 am

WAnderson wrote:
September 19th, 2017, 8:01 pm
the different tenses that might occur within a narrative are a function of what's more or less important from the speaker's point of view rather than an objective statement of what happened when.
This is a misunderstanding from either your or the original writer's part. It may be about "background" and foreground", at least sometimes, but not about importance per se.
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Robert Crowe
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Re: Grammaticalization of tense?

Post by Robert Crowe » September 20th, 2017, 8:17 am

My understanding is that Tense and Aspect refer to the encoded forms given in textbook paradigms, whereas Arktionsart refers to pragmatic functions these can adopt within various contexts.

e.g. Rev 20:4 ἔζησαν καὶ ἐβασίλευσαν μετά τοῦ Χριστοῦ χίλια ἔτη

Here ἔζησαν is simply an aorist with regard to tense and aspect, but has an ingressive force with regard to Aktionsart: they came to life and ruled with Christ for a thousand years.

The various pragmatic functions tenses are thought to have are listed and explained in Intermediate Grammars, though not normally under a heading actually called 'Aktionsarten'. Not in English anyway.
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RandallButh
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Re: Grammaticalization of tense?

Post by RandallButh » September 20th, 2017, 10:24 am

What Mike said is the proper starting point.

Grammaticalization refers to a language incorporating something into the morphological or syntactical marking system(s) in the language.

Tense is specifically related to temporal categories. For example, the augment in Greek is a temporal grammaticalization.

However, Greek, like many languages has created categories that mix tense, aspect, and mood. For example, Greek has παρατατικός indicative an open-ended past, and ἀόριστος indicative a closed past. That puts both time and aspect into the two morphological categories.

= = = a caveat:

Many people say things about aktionsart and aspect, especially in NT Greek studies, that do not mesh well with current linguistics, ironically this is sometimes done in the name of "linguistics" in NT studies.

Linguistically, aspect is basically divided into two kinds, (1) a lexical-semantic grid that works with the semantics and valency of the semantics of each individual verb, and (2) a viewpoint aspect as morpho-syntactic categories that present an "event". The most basic distinction is viewing an event as an open-ended "imperfective" event, viewing the event from within and without thinking about the beginning and endpoints, and viewing an event as a closed "perfective" event that views the event from "outside", thinking about the whole event from start to finish as one entity.

The first aspectual category (1, above) is basically lexical-semantic, though of course, words can be used in sentences with pragmatic implicatures. (These lexical semantics are the primary reference of "aktionsart".)
The second aspectual category (2, above) is syntactic-semantic and plays a role in the pragmatic presentation of a discourse, a communication.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Grammaticalization of tense?

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » September 20th, 2017, 12:38 pm

RandallButh wrote:
September 20th, 2017, 10:24 am
What Mike said is the proper starting point.
{snip}

Linguistically, aspect is basically divided into two kinds, (1) a lexical-semantic grid that works with the semantics and valency of the semantics of each individual verb, and (2) a viewpoint aspect as morpho-syntactic categories that present an "event". The most basic distinction is viewing an event as an open-ended "imperfective" event, viewing the event from within and without thinking about the beginning and endpoints, and viewing an event as a closed "perfective" event that views the event from "outside", thinking about the whole event from start to finish as one entity.

The first aspectual category (1, above) is basically lexical-semantic, though of course, words can be used in sentences with pragmatic implicatures. (These lexical semantics are the primary reference of "aktionsart".)
The second aspectual category (2, above) is syntactic-semantic and plays a role in the pragmatic presentation of a discourse, a communication.
When we say that verb tense and/or aspect are grammaticalized, is it not misleading to imply that these grammaticalized features are unaffected by lexical semantics, co-text, context? When we hear someone making a distinction between affected and unaffected meaning, what sort of semantic theory is lurking under the surface of that reasoning?
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MAubrey
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Re: Grammaticalization of tense?

Post by MAubrey » September 20th, 2017, 5:00 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
September 20th, 2017, 12:38 pm
When we say that verb tense and/or aspect are grammaticalized, is it not misleading to imply that these grammaticalized features are unaffected by lexical semantics, co-text, context? When we hear someone making a distinction between affected and unaffected meaning, what sort of semantic theory is lurking under the surface of that reasoning?
Bybee (1985) has a good discussion of a sort of cline or continuum of inflectional categories based on how much they interact with (affect/are affected by) a verb's lexical semantics:

Voice > Aspect > Mood/Modality > Tense > Person > Number.

http://amzn.to/2wHSNJd
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