clayton stirling bartholomew
c.s.bartholomew at worldnet.att.net
Wed Aug 30 14:48:58 EDT 2000
on 08/29/00 9:27 PM, CWestf5155 at aol.com wrote:
> In a message dated 08/29/2000 3:49:20 PM Mountain Daylight Time,
> c.s.bartholomew at worldnet.att.net writes:
>> In Mk 10:12 we read:
>> hEN SE hUSTEREI.
>> The lexical semantic data on hUSTEREI indicates that it specifies a STATE.
>> This is a property of the word as it is used in the GNT.
>> What difference would if make in the meaning of this statement if hUSTEREI
>> was inflected as a imperfect or an aorist?
> I agree with Porter that the present tense involves foregrounding. It is
> emphatic material that is more immediate--in your face. It depicts action in
> progress. The imperfect also depicts action in progress, and I agree with
> Randall's observations about the imperfect--it develops the context or the
> setting (I actually would call this background or backdrop)--it is more
How can we go about testing the notion that "the present tense involves
foregrounding?" Can this notion be falsified? If not, why should we accept
If you can test the proposition "the present tense involves foregrounding"
then there must be some independent means of determining what is in the
foreground and what is in the background of a discourse. By independent, I
mean some means that is not connected with verb marking.
The only way I can see to test this proposition is to look in high level
semantic structure of the discourse for information about what is in the
foreground and what is in the background. You must begin by presuming that
you can obtain reliable indicators of foreground and background in the
semantic structure COMPLETELY INDEPENDED of verb marking before you can run
your test on the present tense.
If this is the case, then you have essentially admitted (implicitly) that
the high level semantic structure of the discourse contains adequate
information for determining what is in the foreground and in the background.
But the high level semantic structure is not something that can be reduced
to a "bean counter" research paradigm. It is a subjective business analyzing
high level semantic structure and so all the people who want to stick with
the objective quantifiable questions (formal language features) get caught
playing a double game. They end up using (implicitly) this subjective high
level semantic structure to prove propositions like "the present tense
involves foregrounding." And then they proceed to tell us that they are only
relying on the "hard data," the so called formal language features, to reach
Will this kind of thinking stand the light of day?
Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062
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