Gnomic aorists (was Re: Góquim)
|From:||Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, August 6, 2003, 21:19|
"Thomas R. Wier" <trwier@...> writes:
> Quoting Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>:
> > Quoting Peter Bleackley <Peter.Bleackley@...>:
> > > Staving Thomas Wier:
> > > >Quoting Christian Thalmann <cinga@...>:
> > > >
> > > > > One of the verb affixes is called "infinite". Is that a
> > > > > typo for "infinitive", or is it some kind of tense used for
> > > > > general truths and timeless static situations? The latter
> > > > > would be cool, but I somewhat doubt it was the intention.
> > > >
> > > >If so, the traditional name for such a tense is "gnomic".
> > >
> > > What a wonderful name for a tense! Presumably, an elvish language should
> > > always include a gnomic tense.
> > Hm, unfortunately, Quenya uses a tense called "aorist" for that. And if I
> > recall my Greek correctly (fat chance!), that means etymologically much the
> > same as "infinite".
> Yes, precisely so: Greek has a gnomic aorist. In Greek (and other
> languages with it, like Georgian), a gnomic aorist is not a formal
> morphological category, but simply a descriptor of one use of the
> aorist. The Greek aorist has other uses as well.
My own Elvish languages also have a gnomic aorist, wherein,
as in Greek and Georgian, the aorist has other uses as well,
such as that of a tense of narration. As soon as I heard
of gnomic aorists, I decided that my languages would have to
I am not sure yet which way it is marked on the verb; currently,
I favour the "augment", a prefix consisting of the root vowel
(thus, the aorist of _mel-_ `love' is _emel-_, of _hat-_ `eat',
_ahat-_). If the verb begins with a vowel, that vowel is
lengthened. But I also consider making the aorist the unmarked
form of the verb.
BTW, I wonder whether the Georgian usage is influenced by Greek.
After all, the standard of Classical Georgian is set by the Bible
> (In English, gnomics are usually in the simple present: "God
> helps them who help themselves.")
> > My Elvish lang uses the uninflected verb for that. Given its most common
> > function, a traditionalist western philologist would undoubtedly named
> > it "imperfect".
> I doubt it. "Imperfect" typically describes on-going actions which
> in principle have beginnings and ends. Gnomic aorists refer precisely
> to circumstances which have no beginning or end.
What speaks against renaming it "aorist"? Is it also used as the
tense of narration (a typical functioon of the aorist)?