[B-Greek] Time and Reference - Sorting things out

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Tue Nov 4 15:24:00 EST 2008

Aubrey egrapse
> (this is going to be a point of contention between us) I'm cynical about
whether the Emic/Etic distinction is helpful here. Linguistic field workers
are taught not to ask the native speaker "what does X mean?" for the
reason that it isn't necessarily true - As much as English speakers think
they have 5 vowels, there are still eleven regardless.>

Contention? Pour quoi?
Fret not. I am fully aware of the follies of native speaker attitudes, having
lived in multi-lingual settings for 35 years. And in language learning it
is important to use real communication in a language, never meta-
linguistic questions. Rule of thumb: if a child cannot answer it, don't
ask it. Ignoring this is the fastest way to end any conversation.
Tech questions should only go to tech people. And be evaluated.

However, in the case of ancient Greek, these were quite sophisticated
philosophers, and they certainly weren't being misled or prejudiced by
English. They were inventing the system. Their testimony of XRONOS
has to be taken as seriously as when sophisticated English speakers
insist that English is not a modal verb system even though using
WILL (i.e. to want, desire) as the marker for the future tense. And 'emic'
is important, because it is how the system holds together, despite
marginal phenomena.

The Greeks recognized aspect, too, but did not give it a name. For that
they can be faulted.

Please be careful of your 'spatial metaphor of remoteness' because
you may be doing exactly what Porter did with the future. Games with

There's nothing really "remote" about AORISTOS XRONOS EN TH
ORISTIKH EGKLISEI. Except that it is not ENESTWS. If it just
happened, EGENETO, it may still be there.
We explain to our students that if someone says HMESE ημεσε
there may or may not be something to clean up. [But if one says
EMHMEKE, then there is either something to clean up or the person
is still sick.]

ERRWSO, literally

Randall Buth, PhD
randallbuth at gmail.com
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

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