03: The expression of past, present, and future

Exploring Albert Rijksbaron's book, The Syntax and Semantics of the Verb in Classical Greek: An Introduction, to see how it would need to be adapted for Koine Greek. Much of the focus will be on finding Koine examples to illustrate the same points Rijksbaron illustrates with Classical examples, and places where Koine Greek diverges from Classical Greek.
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Re: 03: The expression of past, present, and future

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 14th, 2013, 4:59 pm

MAubrey wrote:Right, well, I stand by my previous statement. Porter hasn't exactly filled me with confidence when it comes to his handling of the secondary linguistic literature--his interpretation of the terms markedness and grounding are notable examples on that front. He's also generally dismissive of Dahl in his literature review, though I can't find the page number just now (the lack of an author index isn't helpful).
Well I don't really want to get into a probably un-illuminating and predictably boring discussion of how well a scholar must understand a theory to be considered to have rejected it. For me, it is enough the scholar was exposed to it, cited it, and yet refused to follow it, no matter how (in)adequate the scholar's reasoning is. I wish Porter had articulated clear reasons for not following a theory that right there in the sources he cited, because it would have focused the debate on an issue that could have been more productive than what we have seen over the past quarter-century.
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Re: 03: The expression of past, present, and future

Post by MAubrey » July 14th, 2013, 5:48 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:Well I don't really want to get into a probably un-illuminating and predictably boring discussion of how well a scholar must understand a theory to be considered to have rejected it. For me, it is enough the scholar was exposed to it, cited it, and yet refused to follow it, no matter how (in)adequate the scholar's reasoning is. I wish Porter had articulated clear reasons for not following a theory that right there in the sources he cited, because it would have focused the debate on an issue that could have been more productive than what we have seen over the past quarter-century.
I'm not entirely sure why we would have suggest a discussion, but...O.K.

I agree that the lack of discussion/explanation is frustrating and you're right, that's precisely what has hindered the debate over the decades.
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Re: 03: The expression of past, present, and future

Post by RandallButh » July 14th, 2013, 6:20 pm

Well I don't really want to get into a probably un-illuminating and predictably boring discussion of how well a scholar must understand a theory to be considered to have rejected it. . . . I wish Porter had articulated clear reasons for not following a theory that right there in the sources he cited, because it would have focused the debate on an issue that could have been more productive than what we have seen over the past quarter-century.
Stephen, I agree that specific reasons could have clarified points of Porter's rejections.
Moreover, on the general question, I think that if a scholar misunderstands a theory he should be called out on that point but the theory itself should not be stigmatized (by saying "scholar ABC rejected this theory"). That scholar misunderstood a theory and rejected it based on his own misunderstanding. It would be best to cite him as 'not understanding a theory' but not to cite him as 'rejecting a theory,' as if the rejection carried validity. And if several make the same mistake, then we have a curiousity within scholarship. Such curiosities come and go.

To what may this be compared? If a scholar misunderstands aspect and time and rhetorical functions of these against their normal usage, should that scholar be cited again and again because he (mis)-claims that the historical present is a natural use of a 'timeless imperfective aspect'? Isn't it enough to just say that he is wrong on that point? One can simply say, "scholar ABC did not understand the rhetorical incongruency of the aspect of the historical present."
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Re: 03: The expression of past, present, and future

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 14th, 2013, 8:48 pm

RandallButh wrote:Moreover, on the general question, I think that if a scholar misunderstands a theory he should be called out on that point but the theory itself should not be stigmatized (by saying "scholar ABC rejected this theory"). That scholar misunderstood a theory and rejected it based on his own misunderstanding. It would be best to cite him as 'not understanding a theory' but not to cite him as 'rejecting a theory,' as if the rejection carried validity. And if several make the same mistake, then we have a curiousity within scholarship. Such curiosities come and go.
OK. I don't quite see the presupposition in "reject" that the rejection was proper or warranted or that it stigmatizes what was rejected. Perhaps "refuse to accept" or "refuse to make use" (from the first definition of "reject" in AHD) would be less ambiguous?

I don't really know if misunderstanding is the reason he rejected, uh, refused to make use of prototype theory. Maybe he never heard of it (which I thought was Mike's original point and which I don't think applies), maybe he never bothered to understand it, maybe he thought it didn't apply to tense for some reason, maybe he understands the theory but weighs the evidence differently, or maybe he found some fatal flaw in it that we don't know about. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell which possibility is right because he didn't really explain why (unless I overlooked something).

But it's all so unnecessary. His subjective state of mind isn't really important to me. What is important in this case is that I believe that I have identified a key theoretical move that forces his theory to look in large part the way it does. I think it also explain why some of your arguments over the years (such as the lack of an aorist with αὔριον) seem to fall on deaf ears. As far as I understand his semantic theory, such negative distributional evidence simply isn't relevant for his attempts to find a single basic meaning that holds for the aorist indicative. Rather, his theory will only countenance objections that purport to falsify the basic meanings of the forms he has articulated. What this results in are definitions of increasing generality and unfalsiability.
RandallButh wrote:To what may this be compared? If a scholar misunderstands aspect and time and rhetorical functions of these against their normal usage, should that scholar be cited again and again because he (mis)-claims that the historical present is a natural use of a 'timeless imperfective aspect'? Isn't it enough to just say that he is wrong on that point? One can simply say, "scholar ABC did not understand the rhetorical incongruency of the aspect of the historical present."
Well, I feel that *is* enough to say that someone's wrong (with appropriate reasons of course) without the extra step about speculating on his state of mind. I realize it can get very frustrating after a long course of dealing where one side refuses to engage the evidence the other side has raised. Still for me it is virtually a truism that where there is a scholarly disagreement each side thinks the other side has misunderstood. I expect scholars to think that their opponents have misunderstood, so reading this opinion in print really isn't that informative or persuasive to me. Rather, I want to see the evidence and arguments (including the theoretical basis for why the evidence is relevant) and the personal stuff set aside.
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Re: 03: The expression of past, present, and future

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 15th, 2013, 3:53 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
MAubrey wrote:Porter's terminology article is in Trinity's library, I'll see if I can check it out on Monday when I'm on campus.
Yes, I would appreciate that very much.
OK. Now that I've read it, I cannot find anything about prototype theory in there. To whatever extent he had encountered the theory between 1986 and 1989, it does not appear to have made any difference on his theory.
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Re: 03: The expression of past, present, and future

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 16th, 2013, 9:24 am

I should also point out John Lyons's 1977 treatise Semantics, which Porter cites often and appears influential, knows nothing about prototype theory, which is not surprising considering its publication date.
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Re: 03: The expression of past, present, and future

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » July 17th, 2014, 3:53 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:In this section (§ 3), R. clearly places himself in the camp that the Greek tenses (also) convey the notion of absolute time in the indicative. The purpose of the tenses is to locate the state of affairs given by the verb relative to the moment of utterance.
I don't know if R's term "utterance" is a technical term which includes indirect statements, but if it's not, his description isn't correct. In Greek "they saw that he does" is correct, but the present tense is relative to their seeing, not to the moment of utterance. As far as I can see R doesn't mention such situations here in §3.
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Re: 03: The expression of past, present, and future

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 17th, 2014, 4:40 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:In this section (§ 3), R. clearly places himself in the camp that the Greek tenses (also) convey the notion of absolute time in the indicative. The purpose of the tenses is to locate the state of affairs given by the verb relative to the moment of utterance.
I don't know if R's term "utterance" is a technical term which includes indirect statements, but if it's not, his description isn't correct. In Greek "they saw that he does" is correct, but the present tense is relative to their seeing, not to the moment of utterance. As far as I can see R doesn't mention such situations here in §3.
Of course, R knows this. This chapter (II) relates to independent clauses. The tenses of dependent clauses are discussed at the beginning of Chapter III, round pages 50-51.
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Re: 03: The expression of past, present, and future

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » July 17th, 2014, 10:27 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:This chapter (II) relates to independent clauses. The tenses of dependent clauses are discussed at the beginning of Chapter III, round pages 50-51.
But I thought we were talking about §3 in chapter I, p. 4, not about chapter II?
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Re: 03: The expression of past, present, and future

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 17th, 2014, 1:50 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:This chapter (II) relates to independent clauses. The tenses of dependent clauses are discussed at the beginning of Chapter III, round pages 50-51.
But I thought we were talking about §3 in chapter I, p. 4, not about chapter II?
OK, right, so the reader has to read half-way through the book, then, before realizing that "the moment of utterance" is actually ambiguous when there are dependent clauses.
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