[B-Greek] Constantine Campbell / Basics of Verbal Aspect

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Thu Apr 2 04:54:11 EDT 2009

some brief answers are between the lines
egrapse baldwin
> Hello Carl:    Thanks for your comments.

I expect that Carl will answer this. I am adding some comments
to clarify a note that Aubrey has made, including my name.

> Who are the main "published" detractors of aspect? (i.e. where can I read their criticisms? [apart from b-greek!!]).

this saddles the horse backwards.
It could almost guarantee misunderstanding if taken as a starting point.
All people using Greek have ALWAYS appreciated aspect. Including today.
I still remember the time I went in a store and asked
QELW (i)NA AGORAZW NERO (=water 'modernGreek for υδωρ YDWR')
The store clerk was puzzled seeing that I had a sixpack of water
bottles. She said
NA AGORASEIS? changing the aspect and questioning my intention with the
appropriate aspect for making a simple purchase. We then discussed the
fact that
I did not want a water contract nor to be buying more water than what I had put
on the checkout belt.
Greeks have always understood aspect. Then and now.
So what is the problem? Porter was a detractor of tense.

> And what are the alternatives to aspect? And are they any better? In my [limited] experience, aspect is always presented in comparison with aktionsart. Is e.g. the "once and for all" aorist a product of aktionsart?

Saddle still facing the tail. (PS: this is meant as goodnatured humor, your
question is honorable and may reflect on how Campbell has been teaching
at his dude ranch)
There are no alternatives to aspect. But primarily in NT circles
a lot of people misunderstood and misapplied the lexical features of aksionsart
for "its" aspectual ones. This kind of thiing commonly happens in any language
when a learner takes an imprecise metalanguage term and extrappolates.
Intermediate essay students are always saying, "but teacher, why cann't I
say that, the grammar book would imply that I could" and the teacher says
"but they don't say it that way."


> What do you think of Campbell's placement of aspect wrt aktionsart?
[aspect being semantic, aktionsart being pragmatic?].

Well, aktionsart is lexical-semantic, NOT pragmatic. And aspect is semantic-
pragmatic. So I wouldn't recommend Campbell's dude ranch. I assume that
Campbell wouldn't be so off, so there may be a typo or a miscommunication
somewhere in background. But if Campbell throws out time from the Greek
verb system he isn't reliable anyway.


> As for consensus, is there a consensus on anything in this area? He does mention some consensus on non-indicatives being aspectual and non-temporal ...


Let me add a note that undermines the "parade example" of aspect-only people.
The "historical present". It is a common usage and it is claimed to undermind
the inclusion of time in the indicative. In fact, the 'historical
present' is a rhetorical
usage of time AGAINST ITSELF, and it is also a rhetorical usage of
aspect AGAINST ITSELF (against aspect).  When people can wrap their heads
around this we can have a sane discussion and get back to working with Greek.
Hopefully in Greek itself. It's a shame to spend all of this time in
english, isn't it?
Linguistically, we would call the historical present a "pragmatic
usage". It forces
a person to picture an event as open-ended and present even though it is
normally in a sequence of closed events. the imperfect can be used
too, in order to background a complete event among other complete aorist events.

One more note: people often get trapped by their metalanguage, their metaphors
that are used for describing a language. The aspect-only people do
that very thing
when they substitute 'space and distiance' for 'time'. Their so-called
'remote marker'
(the AYKSHSIS augment) is in fact a time marker and has nothing to do with
kilometers or inches. Nothing.

So let's saddle the horse rightly. Greek has time and Greek has
aspect. It is one
of the most morphologically marked aspect systems in the world. (Not so Hebrew,
Hebrew is one of the most morphologically impoverished aspect systems.
[Cf Jud 14.1 and 14.5 Hebrew has trouble marking aspect and rarely bothers to
do so when narrating movement. Cf. Gen 37.28 where Greek overrode the source
and clarified the aspect.] Hebrew started to become more sensitive to
aspect after
coming in bilingual contact with Greek. Isn't it ironic that seminary
students are
normally told that 'Hebrew is aspectual and Greek temporal'? Porter and others
have even cited Hebrew as justification for their no-tense view of Greek.)
The question must be: who are the published detractors of tense? Porter,
Campbell, and their followers. (Even MacKay had his temporal moments, but
he was a generation before Porter and cannot be called a Porter follower.)

So stand at the horse's left side, carefully loosen the cinch strap, . . .

Randall Buth

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

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