Rendering imperfective into English (an English question?)

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Shirley Rollinson
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Re: Rendering imperfective into English (an English question?)

Post by Shirley Rollinson » July 22nd, 2018, 10:00 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
July 22nd, 2018, 1:07 am
Jonathan Robie wrote:
July 20th, 2018, 3:23 pm
Logically he started teaching when he hadn't been teaching before, but there's no particular focus on the beginning in these examples.
I think we may need to be precise about what kind of beginning is supposed to meant. For example, Hoffmann-Siebenthal § 198e (who end up rejecting the category) distinguish between an "onset" and a "starting point":
HS § 198e wrote:Damit verbunden ist möglicherweise eine Verwendungsart, die man als 'inchoatives' Ipf. bezeichnen könnte: das Ipf. bezieht sich auf das Einsetzen eines länger andauernden Geschehens (im Gegensatz dazu würde der ingressive Ind.Aor. den Anfangspunkt bezeichnen, aber das Andauern des Geschehens offenlassen, §199d):
Presumably, this distinguishes between an interval of time at the beginning and the point in time at the beginning, but perhaps someone with better German than me can explicate the nuances of Einsetzen and Anfangspunkt.
As I understand the German, the Ipf. is used for the start of an event which will continue for a longer (that's what it says) period of time, in contrast to the ingressive Ind. Aor. which denotes the starting point of an event but leaves the question of duration open.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Rendering imperfective into English (an English question?)

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 24th, 2018, 8:21 am

Shirley Rollinson wrote:
July 22nd, 2018, 10:00 pm
Stephen Carlson wrote:
July 22nd, 2018, 1:07 am
I think we may need to be precise about what kind of beginning is supposed to meant. For example, Hoffmann-Siebenthal § 198e (who end up rejecting the category) distinguish between an "onset" and a "starting point":
HS § 198e wrote:Damit verbunden ist möglicherweise eine Verwendungsart, die man als 'inchoatives' Ipf. bezeichnen könnte: das Ipf. bezieht sich auf das Einsetzen eines länger andauernden Geschehens (im Gegensatz dazu würde der ingressive Ind.Aor. den Anfangspunkt bezeichnen, aber das Andauern des Geschehens offenlassen, §199d):
Presumably, this distinguishes between an interval of time at the beginning and the point in time at the beginning, but perhaps someone with better German than me can explicate the nuances of Einsetzen and Anfangspunkt.
As I understand the German, the Ipf. is used for the start of an event which will continue for a longer (that's what it says) period of time, in contrast to the ingressive Ind. Aor. which denotes the starting point of an event but leaves the question of duration open.
I'm not sure, but I think andauernd, used as an adjective, might mean "continuous" in the sense of "ongoing" here - "the onset of a longer continuous event" (as opposed to the ingressive Indicative Aorist, which denotes the starting point of an event but leaves the question of duration open).

As Stephen points out, he rejects the category. For the two examples he gives, he also gives alternative interpretations.

ἡ δὲ πρύμνα ἐλύετο ὑπὸ τῆς βίας.
inchoative: the stern began to break away
linear: the stern broke away more and more
conative: the stern threatened to break away

καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ ἐδίδασκεν αὐτοὺς
inchoative: he began to teach
linear: he taught in detail

He has a nice overview of which grammars believe in ingressive aorist.
  • Grammars that believe in ingressive aorist: Smyth §1900; Moule S.9; Robertson S.880/885; apparently Turner (1963) S.65/67 on Mk 1:31; perhaps Zerwick-Grosvenor S.xxi.
  • Grammars that oppose this category: Schwyzer II S.277 (a standard text for ancient Greek).
  • Grammars that do not mention the category: Kühner-Gerth, Burton, Wackernagel, Humbert, BR, Zerwick.
His reasoning for rejecting the category is simple: all of the examples cited to support it can easily be explained using "existing categories", implying that these other categories are more traditional. But he also says that nevertheless, the durative aspect in a given context might sometimes be better translated in ways that consider to the beginning of the action. He says that it's possible this is what BDR (§3261) und Zerwick-Grosvenor (S.xxi), are getting at, and probably also Turner (1963) S.65/67 (on Mk 1:31).
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Rendering imperfective into English (an English question?)

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 24th, 2018, 7:35 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
July 24th, 2018, 8:21 am
I'm not sure, but I think andauernd, used as an adjective, might mean "continuous" in the sense of "ongoing" here - "the onset of a longer continuous event" (as opposed to the ingressive Indicative Aorist, which denotes the starting point of an event but leaves the question of duration open).
That's helpful, but I'm wondering if Einsetzen has a different nuance from Anfangspunkt or if they are meant synonymously.
Jonathan Robie wrote:
July 24th, 2018, 8:21 am
As Stephen points out, he rejects the category.
***
He has a nice overview of which grammars believe in ingressive aorist.
Wallace's survey of grammars seems to have not noticed that Hoffmann-Siebenthal rejects the category. I am also skeptical of Wallace's argument that grammars who support the conative implicitly support the inceptive.
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Re: Rendering imperfective into English (an English question?)

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 25th, 2018, 6:20 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
July 24th, 2018, 7:35 pm
That's helpful, but I'm wondering if Einsetzen has a different nuance from Anfangspunkt or if they are meant synonymously.
He's clearly trying to distinguish two things, and the "punkt" (point) part of Anfangspunkt (starting point) emphasizes a non-linear way of looking at it.

In this context, I think Einsetzen is like the English "onset", like the onset of a condition. By itself, the word has a broader semantic range.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
July 24th, 2018, 7:35 pm
Wallace's survey of grammars seems to have not noticed that Hoffmann-Siebenthal rejects the category. I am also skeptical of Wallace's argument that grammars who support the conative implicitly support the inceptive.
I hadn't read this grammar before, I bought the Kindle edition. I really like what I see.
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Re: Rendering imperfective into English (an English question?)

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 27th, 2018, 12:03 am

OK. Having looked at the all the example, I'm satisfied that the so-called inceptive imperfect is not a category of its own (i.e. does not have a distinct sense), but a use case where the context resists a translation with the English past progressive. It's more of a quirk in the English aspectual system. It might be nice to see what Romance language translations do.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Rendering imperfective into English (an English question?)

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 27th, 2018, 5:38 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 12:03 am
OK. Having looked at the all the example, I'm satisfied that the so-called inceptive imperfect is not a category of its own (i.e. does not have a distinct sense), but a use case where the context resists a translation with the English past progressive. It's more of a quirk in the English aspectual system. It might be nice to see what Romance language translations do.
Where is the list of examples, or can you give some of them?
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Rendering imperfective into English (an English question?)

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 27th, 2018, 7:47 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 5:38 am
Stephen Carlson wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 12:03 am
OK. Having looked at the all the example, I'm satisfied that the so-called inceptive imperfect is not a category of its own (i.e. does not have a distinct sense), but a use case where the context resists a translation with the English past progressive. It's more of a quirk in the English aspectual system. It might be nice to see what Romance language translations do.
Where is the list of examples, or can you give some of them?
Here are the examples Mounce gave for the NET translation, with a few translations that render them variously.

Ingressive Imperfect Examples

I agree that this looks like a translation issue, and maybe a quirk in the English aspectual system. Here are the same examples in a Spanish and a French translation:

Ingressive Imperfect Examples (in Spanish and French)
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Garrett Tyson
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Re: Rendering imperfective into English (an English question?)

Post by Garrett Tyson » July 27th, 2018, 8:47 am

Possibly another argument against the inceptive imperfect would be that when writers wanted to emphasize the beginning of the action, they had other more obvious ways to do so. Mark 2:23. καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἤρξαντο ὁδὸν ποιεῖν τίλλοντες τοὺς στάχυας. ἤρξαντο plus an infinitive is a common phrase in the NT. I'm guessing you could go out on a tiny limb and say that's the normal way to emphasize the beginning of the action.

Here in Mark, the idea is maybe that the disciples have begun clearing a road for Jesus, in the same way that John originally did. This would show development on their part. If that seems too trippy.... I'm deciding that reading Mark is like reading John. You have to read into everything. The tension with that, maybe, is that they were supposed to "come after" Jesus and follow him. But I guess the two are compatible...
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Re: Rendering imperfective into English (an English question?)

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 27th, 2018, 9:05 am

Garrett Tyson wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 8:47 am
Possibly another argument against the inceptive imperfect would be that when writers wanted to emphasize the beginning of the action, they had other more obvious ways to do so. Mark 2:23. καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἤρξαντο ὁδὸν ποιεῖν τίλλοντες τοὺς στάχυας. ἤρξαντο plus an infinitive is a common phrase in the NT. I'm guessing you could go out on a tiny limb and say that's the normal way to emphasize the beginning of the action.
This occurs with other verbs too.

Often, the inceptive imperfect in these examples is simply an imperfect that occurs after an aorist when it's clear that the activity the imperfect describes could not have started before the event described by the aorist. The disciples came to him (aorist) and he taught them (imperfect). He wasn't teaching them before they came to him.

I suspect the ingressive aorist is a valid category, I'm beginning to lose faith in the ingressive imperfect.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Rendering imperfective into English (an English question?)

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 27th, 2018, 6:14 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 7:47 am

Here are the examples Mounce gave for the NET translation, with a few translations that render them variously.

Ingressive Imperfect Examples

I agree that this looks like a translation issue, and maybe a quirk in the English aspectual system. Here are the same examples in a Spanish and a French translation:

Ingressive Imperfect Examples (in Spanish and French)
Thanks, you beat me to it! The Vulgate:

et dicebat eis vobis datum est mysterium regni Dei Illis autem qui foris sunt in parabolis omnia fiunt.

Simply uses the imperfect tense in Latin, which shares similar features to the imperfect in Greek, and so is not much of a help in the discussion. Allen & Greenough (New Latin Grammar p. 288) states: 'The Imperfect sometimes denotes an action as begun (Inceptive Imperfect), or as attempted or only intended (Conative Imperfect...)" but similar to our discussion here, the examples cited don't necessarily have to be read that way. It's more a function of context and how we render these things in English than an actual "category."
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