[B-Greek] Verbal Aspect theory -- misgivings

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sun Nov 16 12:41:26 EST 2008

Dear Randall,

You still have not explained your use and definition of "time".

Now I need help to clear up this issue from the teachers on the list, 
because English is not my mother tongue.  According to Olsen's Ph.D 
thesis, the verb "works" in "So Paul all yesterday to finish" is a 
simple present (by others called "present tense"). B. Comrie "Aspect" 
(1976:77)  and  N. Wolfson "The conversational historical present in 
American English narrative" (1982) also say that the simple present 
form may be used to implicate that a situation is located in the 
past. Is this wrong? And if "works" is not simple present, what then 
is this form?

When questions like this are discussed, it is important to 
distinguish between form and function. In a dead language we must 
start with form, because we, at the outset, should not have any idea 
regarding function - that is what we find when we do our inductory 
research. If we ask whether the verbs of a dead language do express 
tenses (grammaticalized location in time), the test is very simple: 
If we find that a reasonable number of a particular verb form in 
normal environments has both past, present, and, future reference, 
then the form is not a tense. Is this true with English simple 

One additional remark: It is not necessary to show that a tenseless 
verb form is used in equal numbers with past, present, and future 
reference. There are linguistic conventions and particular restraints 
inside a language that will cause particular forms to be used with 
particular time functions.

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli Ph.D
University of Oslo

>rolf egrapse
>>Past: So Paul works all yesterday to finish
>Present: Paul works from now till 4.
>Future: Paul works tomorrow.
>Omnitemporal: Paul works.>
>But these are based on "Paul works" and
>"Paul works" is NOT the English present tense.
>That's a problem with labels. If the label's wrong, replace it.
>Randall plays tennis, but not at the present moment,
>since I am writing this.
>One problem with 'scientific analysis' (which I accept) is
>that researchers can talk their way into many things that
>do not work that way in reality. sometimes they need the shock of
>a parable, of cold water, or a stubbed toe, to realize what they are
>doing. Using the language does not replace analysis, but
>'not using a language' can be a receipe for disaster. You'd be
>amazed at the analyses I saw in Africa by linguists who never used
>the language or analysis that they were producing.
>Randall Buth, PhD
>randallbuth at gmail.com
>Biblical Language Center
>Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life
>B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
>B-Greek mailing list
>B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org

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