Perfective, Imperfective, and Iterative

Mark Wilson emory2oo2 at
Wed May 8 14:57:00 EDT 2002

As to this remark:

> >It is true as Mark has said that iterativity is not an aspectual
> >characteristic, but it is a function of two or more factors. However,
> >There is a clear assymetry, and by looking at this you can find the
> >linguistic reason why imperfective verbs seem more conductive to an
> >interative function. The assymetry can be illustrated by the three
> >English examples below.

I would say that this is true of the "continuous" function of
verbs, but not the iterative function.  As Alan pointed out, the
iterative, based on it actually being a series of discrete events,
has no more affinity to the Imperfective as the Perfective. I think
this clarification should be absorbed. Even Wallace defines the
Present as Linear, although, for some reason, he uses dots at times
to visual represent the Present.

Concerning this:

>I find this message very assuring, the more so after your message of
>yesterday (Tue, 7 May 2002 10:03:35 +0200) with the same subject-header,
>from which I had the impression that you were in agreement with Mark that
>iterative verbal assertions are more-or-less equally distributed among the
>different Greek tenses.

I really did not mean to create this adversarial discussion out here.
I personally think it too early to dig in and fight. I am merely
exploring this issue.

On this:

>(1) Would you please offer as clear and succinct a definition as possible
>of (a) Aktionsart, and (b) Aspect? I'd (perhaps naively) thought of
>"Aktionsart" as a sub-category of aspect, whereas you seem to be using it
>more as the German word itself seems to be saying, "KIND of action."

These are critical questions, and here is why.

Although this was not asked of me, I'll address it as this:

Verbal components:

1. Lexeme  = Lexical Aspect (inherent verbal velocity of the lexeme)
2. Morpho  = Grammatical Aspect (Perfective or Imperfective)
3. Context = all other intrusions

Here is a direct quote from Mari Olsen:

Aktionsart is generally used to refer to what I call 'lexical aspect':
the inherent properties of the verb that indicate how it unfolds
through time (state vs. event, punctiliar vs. durative, and bounded or
not).  Grammatical aspect is used for imperfective vs. perfective
oppositions, which can interact with lexical aspect, yielding similar
meanings.  Aspect is used as a cover term to both.

Wallace would see Aktionsart as 1+2+3
Olsen sees Aktionsart as 1
Porter does not systematically distinguish 1 and 2

Other Definitions:

Lexeme: word, "a chunk of experience," a symbol representing an ever-
changing concept or object; there is no one-to-one correspondence
of one lexeme to another language. (Translating AGAPH from Greek
to LOVE in English is an approximation of the Greek symbol/lexeme.)

Aspect, using Wallace, is the unaffected meaning of a particular
word/symbol, which only exists hypothetically. That is, there is no such
animal as an "unaffected" word or form.

Perfective: the FORM used when the author wants to focus on the
end/termination of an action, hence: IN SUMMARY (SNAP SHOT)

Imperfective: the FORM used when the author wants to focus on
any time during the action, hence: IN PROGRESS

Iterative: is a function of a verb resulting from a combination
of lexeme, morpho, and contextual (and more extended) features.

Semantics: inherent properties of a word (lexeme) or form (morpho)
that remain inherent to the verb regardless of usage. Olsen says
it is that which is "uncancelable."

Pragmatics: the flexibility of words to bear various meanings
depending on a context.


Nurse (person working at a hospital):

  semantics = medical professional of a certain sort
  pragmatics = female

And finally this:

> >                                             ... This use of the
> >aspects is known by native speakers of English even though most
> >persons will not be able to give a definition of the aspects - the[y]
> >just "know" their uses.
>I think this bears upon the question in the thread initiated by Glenn Blank
>("How we know what we know--about Koine?"): to the extent that learners of
>Greek have been successful and can read (perhaps even write) ANCIENT Greek
>with some competence and fluency, they, like Rolf's native
>English-speakers, "know" these usages of what we call "tenses" and
>"imperfective" and "perfective" even if they cannot give a definition of
>the aspects. Is that fair to say, given that "little" qualification: "to
>the extent that ... have been successful and can read ... with some
>competence and fluency ..."?

This may be somewhat acceptable for a language in general, but
I do not think this holds for nuances of a language.

Porter comes to mind. Practically all Greek professors for hundreds
of years have been describing Greek Tenses as temoporal based. For
example, the "Aorist is a past tense. The Present is a present tense."
Porter has now challenged the traditional view.

The Aorist has been taught by many as the once-for-all tense.
Many see a "divine passive."

And Carl has been challenging the entire M/P morpho system of
Greek. And if he is correct, ALL grammars written over that last
two hundred years will have to be re-written. And " our traditional
understanding" will have to start all over.

I think we all have a tendency to be close-minded, or set in our
ways. Traditional understanding is hard to challenge, just ask
Porter. Or, just ask Carl after he writes his book on the M/P forms,
right Ward Powers?

More thoughts,

Mark Wilson

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