(gnomic) These two positions don't even seem close

yochanan bitan-buth ButhFam at compuserve.com
Mon Aug 28 03:49:30 EDT 2000

kai cindy egrapsen 

>Some issues that I have with Wallace/Fanning can be illustrated with just
>example: the Gnomic.  Wallace lists the Gnomic as a category for the
>Imperfect, Aorist, Future and Perfect.  The question is: why did a natural

>language user select or prefer any one of these tenses for the Gnomic in a

>given situation, or indeed, why would the language convey the Gnomic in
>tenses.  All they have done is describe the fact that all of these tenses 
>appear in gnomic semantic contexts.

"Why?" is a good question. 

One answer is that 'gnomic' is a very abstract animal. I would expect
'gnomic' to present systemic jumps by its very nature, similarly to the way
a compass works around the north or south pole. 
At the north pole EVERY direction is 'south'. At the gnomic pole any tense
might touch. The choice of any Greek tense at the gnomic pole might relate
to things other than measured by the compass (position of the moon,
weather, health, sun, sunspots, something not normally used for calculating
direction when walking in forest.)

Said another way around, gnomic is not a good place to be organizing a verb
system, probably in any language. (The same is notoriously true of 'being'
verbs across languages.) As regards a Greek debate, gnomic can be brought
in at the end and will be able to fit. 

By the way, everyone has appreciated Porter's contributions even if they
don't buy the absolute system. 
That is the way good scholarship works. 

Now if one is allowed a light touch with "egrapsen" above: for those in
doubt this has past reference, but can be interpreted perfectly, and the
situation might even have been or will be true generally or repeatedly. but
egrapsen was a simple past  :-)

Randall Buth

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