Re: THEORY: Aspect terminology (long)
|From:||R A Brown <ray@...>|
|Date:||Friday, December 12, 2008, 16:56|
Eric Christopherson wrote:
> On Dec 11, 2008, at 10:21 PM, Alex Fink wrote:
>> On Wed, 10 Dec 2008 00:38:40 -0600, Eric Christopherson
>>> Part of the discomfort has to do with four aspects: perfective,
>>> perfect, and two "aorists". Here is what I have so far:
>>> Perfective - marks an event as completed
>>> Perfect (or as I initially called it "effective") - marks an event as
>>> completed AND leaving behind a state of relevance
That's is, indeed, what is normally by 'perfect aspect' - but
'perfective' normally denotes an aspect which lacks explicit reference
to the internal temporal consistency of a situation, as opposed to the
'imperfective' which does make reference to the internal temporal situation.
>>> Stative aorist or gnomic aorist - used for timeless truths
>>> Eventive aorist or "pure eventive" - used to describe events pure and
>>> simple, without considering their end points
This seems like a confusion of two different uses of "aorist" in the
traditional terminology of ancient Greek grammar where "aorist" is used
to denote both a tense and an aspect. The so-called 'gnomic aorist' is a
peculiar use of the aorist _tense_ in ancient Greek.
By "eventive aorist" you mean, I think, the use of 'aorist' in the terms
'aorist subjunctive, aorist optative, aorist imperative' etc, where
'aorist' denotes _aspect_ - the perfective aspect, in fact, as it still
does in modern Greek.
>>> Now, I'm not sure what to actually call my "perfective".
Indeed - I think Aidan Grey's suggestion of 'completive' is probably the
>> Perhaps I miss something, but does a verbal form referring to "completed
>> events" not bring in tense meanings as well? I'd call it a past
> Well, a perfective (or a perfect, for that matter) could have reference
> to any time.
Indeed they can. Both the Slavonic languages and modern Greek have
various perfective tenses.
> A "past perfective" to me would be something like "When I
> saw Twilight, I had already read the book".
Yep - what's traditionally called the 'pluperfect'.
> (I think some grammarians do
> talk about that kind of thing as involving a tense relative to another
> tense; see the terms "past in the past", "past in the future", etc.)
They do - but this IMO is confusing tense and aspect.
>> I've seen single-word names deployed for the past perfective, in case
>> want one (
So have I - see above :)
> no surprise, it's a common category, at least in IE, and our
>> terminology grew up describing IE): "preterite", but I've also seen that
>> used for an aspect-unspecified past;
Indeed - that, I thought, was the normal use of 'preterite'. The German
preterite surely often has a past _imperfective_ meaning.
>>and "aorist", which I'm sure you'll
>> _love_ as a suggestion.
> I do like "aorist", but as I said it has somewhat contradictory (yet
> also somewhat congruent) meanings.
The trouble _aorist_ it that it has developed several different
meanings; Trask, for example, lists:
1. A verb form marked for past tense but unmarked for aspect.
2. A verb form marked for both past tense and perfective aspect.
3. A verb form marked for perfective aspect.
4. A conventional label used in a highly variable manner among
specialists in particular languages to denote some particular verb form
or set of verb forms.
2 and 3 are the Greek usage. As an example of 4, Trask gives G. L.
Lewis' use of the term to denote durative/habitual aspect forms in
Turkish. Trask also adds: "NOTE: in view of this great terminological
confusion, Comrie (1976) recommends the avoidance of the term 'aorist'
in linguistic theory."
I agree. If the term 'aorist' is used, then obviously its use in the
particular language needs to be clearly defined.
>>> I have seen
>>> various definitions of perfective aspect as referring to a
>>> *completed* event, but I've also seen definitions of it as referring
>>> to a *complete* event, i.e. an event without reference to its end
>>> state or any internal structure. For some reason I seem to believe
>>> that the "complete" reading is the one more popular in linguistics
>>> per se, whereas the "completed" reading is more common in
>>> conlanging... is that true?
If this is true then 'twould seem to me that conlangers have a tendency
to confuse perfect and perfective aspects - but I don't know whether
this is true or not.
>>> As for perfect, I like the name "effective" since it's parallel to
>>> "perfective", but I don't know that it's precedented.
>> I've never heard of an "effective".
> It's my own coinage :)
It would certainly be helpful if a different term than 'perfect' were
used; but however attractive 'effective' (which I've also not see it
used as an aspectual term) may be, I'm afraid 'perfect' and 'perfective'
have been around too long.
>> Instead of Perfective - Completive.
>> Instead of Perfect/Effective - Resultative.
Except that the way Eric described this aspect, it is the perfect aspect
>> Instead of Stative/Gnomic Aorist - Gnomic or Stative (esp. if "it is
>> red" would take this aspect).
Yep - gnomic would seem to fit the bill.
> I'm just not sure yet if I will differentiate things like "The sky is
> blue" (=always, by its very nature) and "The ball is blue" (now,
> incidentally). Gnomic would only work for the first one. I'll have to
> think about it.
Indeed - the ancient 'gnomic aorist' would only fit the first one.
> Instead of Eventive Aorist - Aorist.
But be aware that _aorist_ has so many different meanings ;)
Frustra fit per plura quod potest
fieri per pauciora.
[William of Ockham]