Perfective, Imperfective, and Iterative

Mark Wilson emory2oo2 at
Wed May 8 23:23:27 EDT 2002

Okay! Here's the issue as I see it. At least, this has
cleared it up for me. After understanding some definitions,
I think I am now prepared to admit defeat  :o )

What got me thinking was a personal response I got
from Dan Wallace on this issue, as well as an OFFLIST
response by Kimmo. I think I now know why Wallace uses
the dots to visualize the Iterative Present. Thanks
Kimmo and Alan for helping me see this. Carl and Rolf,
I am still thinking this through so I reserve the right
to save face in a later email  :o )

The Iterative Present is represented by a SINGLE "chain." (Yes
Carl, more metaphors.)

Each link is a Perfective Event/Unit; that is,
each link has an ending point (thank you Alan Thomas).
(This metaphor breaks down in that the links are generally
intertwined, but let's assume each link is laid out side
by side with a small space between each link, as:


(I need these small spaces between each link to indicate the
cessation of action, the next link in the series shows
the resumption of action, or its repeated occurrence.
But it is necessary and critical to have these spaces
for the Iterative, otherwise we have the Continuous function.)

The SINGLE CHAIN is portrayed as a UNIT!!, and in order to
visualize the entire chain, from the first to last link,
an Imperfective aspect best covers the entire chain, link by link.
(The link by link corresponds to Wallace's dot by dot.) As
Kimmo pointed out, each dot is a Perfective Action, but the
whole is Imperfective. (Correct me if I am wrong Kimmo.)

So the visual chart now is corrected to look like this:

[FIRST link, next link, next link, next link, next link, LAST link]

The above "chain" corresponds to Wallace's dots. Each dot represents
a Perfective Link, but the chain AS A WHOLE is represented by the
Imperfective forms in order to visual the WHOLE IMPERFECTIVE CHAIN
that is composed of Perfective LINKS.

So, it seems that I have been under the wrong understanding of the
traditional view all this time. I felt that the IMPERFECTIVE aspect
did not depict the PERFECTIVE EVENTS properly, but if each link
must have an ending point (per Alan), then each link must be
viewed as Perfective.

And if we are to view the Iterative Present as this WHOLE
CHAIN, then I see no reason that an Imperfective chain can not be
composed of Perfective links.

So, here is where I think I am wrong: a PERFECTIVE CHAIN
can not depict the individual Perfective links, since it summarizes
the whole. That is, it views the chain as a single chain, not as a
composite of multiple (perfective) links.

Any objections to this?

Just don't rub it in Carl or Rolf   :o )

Mark Wilson

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