Diachronic and Synchronic Explanations of Verbs

Mark Wilson emory2oo2 at hotmail.com
Tue May 28 23:09:16 EDT 2002

I would like to use this section of Ward's post to ask a question
to all those linguists out there who are sticklers for detail.

What Ward says here got me thinking with more precision. He wrote:

>When either of the other two aspect morphs -SA- (in the aorist) and -KA-
>(in the perfect active) occur in a word, they REPLACE the "neutral morph"
>("no change in the aspect of this word") and they DO change the word's
>aspect, to (respectively) punctiliar aspect or perfective aspect. This can
>be clearly seen by comparing such First Conjugation indicative active
>examples as
>ELUSATE (aorist): when punctiliar morph -SA- replaces neutral morph, the
>word's aspect is thereby switched to punctiliar

I think Ward uses terms differently than I do, so this question
is not so much a disagreement with Ward, as a clarification of my
own thinking on aspect. And I wanted to hurry up and ask a few
more questions on Verbal Aspect before I wear out my welcome.

What Ward says about ELUSATE (aorist) I find to be technically
inaccurate as far as modern linguistic terminology is concerned.
The Aorist does not denote PUNCTILIAR action. PUNCTILIAR action
is not related to Grammatical Aspect, but Lexical Aspect! Hence,
an Aorist does not switch a +Durative verb to +Punctiliar aspect.

First, suppose LU- is a +Durative verb. Verbs whose Lexical Aspect
are +Durative can never cease being "durative," regardless of what
Grammatical Aspect/FORM they are combined with.

ELUSATE does not become PUNCTILIAR. And such a statement seems to
me to get to the heart of why we need two, distinct categories
for Aspect (Grammatical AND Lexical).

The Aorist FORM does double duty, as does any FORM. The Aorist
denotes TENSE and ASPECT. ELUSATE indicates that the TIME of
the event is PRIOR TO the Deictic Center. The grammatical aspect
of an Aorist FORM interacts with the lexical aspect of a specific
word to yield either:

1. The event COMPLETED
2. The event IN SUMMARY

Perfective Aspect does not take an action/event that took
place over three days, for example, and condense it all into
one, instantaneous action (which is how I understand Punctiliar).

Rather, Grammatical Aspect simply indicates HOW the author wants
to PORTRAY the action/event. And to PORTRAY a +Durative verb with
a perfective form/aspect calls the reader's attention to the simple
occurrence of the event/action itself, without commmenting on
its internal "duration" or lack thereof. And more to the question,
does the perfective form have to imply the COMPLETION of the action?

Any comments are welcome.

Mark Wilson

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