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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 have that! 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 translation.
> (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)? Jörg.


Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>