(gnomic) >spanishimperfect

yochanan bitan-buth ButhFam at compuserve.com
Tue Aug 29 04:06:44 EDT 2000

Cindy raised an important point that many involved in biblical studies

>Besides my DA model, I had an unexpected benefit from my aspect studies. 
>was  "trying" to teach second year Spanish and had to teach the difference

>between the preterite and the imperfect, and found considerable (really 
>amazing) parallels with the issues surrounding the aorist and imperfect. 
>understood the difference which had never been clarified when I took
>and was able to lead the students through some literature analysis that
>sense of the changes in tense.  And I have subsequently spoken with
>who were native speakers and teachers who learned Spanish as a second 
>language in childhood who didn't have a clue.

Many parameters of language and communication are cross-linguistic, that
is, they are human-based and are seemingly echoed in other languages. Of
course, one cannot assume or expect that they will be exactly the same, but
at least some broad organiizing principles will be at work. 

One such principle is using aspects to 'texture' a story and provide some
background, build-up or even closeout to an episode. Thus, a person doesn't
ONLY choose an aspect because they are referring to an event that was
"in-process" (imperfective). Even with contextually completed events, an
imperfective aspect allows the audience to relate to some other event(s) as
dominant or thematic. An easy example from speech: 'he was saying "A" '
(single short speech obviously completed). 'she said, "B" ' (equally
complete but more thematic to the story/conversation). 

This pragmatic use of tense/aspects (not necessairly with verbs of saying)
will be found in many languages, probably wherever imperfecteve and
perfective (aorist) are frequently used in a narrative. 

See a parallel short email on semantics and pragmatics with imperfect.
Here is something that would be nice to have collected. 
Given such background, how many such imperfects can be found in the
Gospels? While one might argue that most of the narrative imperfects
function this way, the intriguing list would be those places where the
semantic/aspectual value of the imperfect is overridden for pragmatic
effect and used for referring to an otherwise complete/simple event within
the storyline.

Randall Buth

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