[B-Greek] Aubrey on remoteness as tense?

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Tue May 12 17:09:29 EDT 2009

aubrey egrapse
> 1) I sincerely thank you for providing your thoughts on this issue. I was
> definitely wondering what you think.
> 2) I want to make it clear that I prefer Tense terminology rather than the
> Spacial terminology - for the same reason that you stated with your
> agreement with Huddleston:
>> I must agree with Huddleston, 'remoteness' doesn't explain why English
> past refers to the past and not the future.  Ditto for Greek.
> Absolutely. I'm with you 100%. And that's why I prefer the Tense
> Terminology and its why I wrote the post and quoted Huddleston in the first
> place.
> With that said, I would consider you comment about the infinitives:
>> Secondly, I must ask if 'remoteness' helps explain an aorist infinititve
>> from
> a continuative infinitive (PARATATIKON), TO AKOYSAI from TO AKOYEIN?
> It doesn't do it for me.
> I don't think its very relevant. Those who hold to the remoteness view place
> its semantic value in the augment prefix, which the infinitive doesn't have.
> So
> remoteness, regardless of perspective, isn't going to do it for anyone on
> the
> issue of infinitives

good. I may have misunderstood you, it was sounding like you were
suggesting remoteness for aorist in general.

> 3) Regarding what I meant when I said I wanted to keep Tense terminology
>  separate from Aspect terminology that basically means that the terms
> Aorist and Present are not helpful. An Aorist verb is +Past tense and
> +Perfective aspect, but that is only true in the Indicative Mood.

So call it an aorist indicative verb, or simple past indicative, and then don't
use the term 'past' for the aspect. We are agreed that perfective is the
correct modern term for aorist, which means that discussions about
'undefined' should be laid to rest (I'm not referring to you but to many
others who call aorist 'undefined' based on etymology.)

> In the
> infinitive, subjunctive, optative, and imperative forms, an Aorist is only
> +Perfective aspect. Likewise, a Present verb is +nonpast/present tense
> and +Imperfective aspect only in the Indicative. Elsewhere a Present verb is
>  only +Imperfective aspect. For that reason I do not consider Aorist and
> Present to be helpful grammatical terms.

I think that 'present' aspect should be avoided like the plague. I only use
ENESTWS when referring to present indicative.

> They are nice cover labels for a
> mood paradigm, but they don't work for actually describing grammatical
> properies. That's basically what I mean - a nice and "short" explanation.

We are quite close. I don't use present at all in describing the Greek
PARATATIKH OPSIS. I use aorist but describe it as EXEI TELOS and
without the additions of PARAKEIMENH and PARATATIKH
One of the reasons that I am reverting to 'Greek' metalanguage is because
I think that aorist and present just get the conversation going in the wrong
foot in English. We are quite agreed here, more so than Porter and others
who somehow tolerate the terms as 'too late to change'. I don't believe it.
And then, because the ancients didn't have a good aspect
term, I provide one for them PARATATIKH, taken from their
PARATATIKOS tense (imperfect/extending) I'll send you a PDF of the
Greek verb and you will see how we chart it for students after they
learn it. (The list server will strip the attachment from the list copy.)

> 4) I agree with you, Dr. Buth, on your rejection of how Porter does things.
> But I definitely do not think that Porter is representative of everyone who
> uses the "remoteness" terminology. Porter has a habit of using technical
> terms in highly unusual ways. But when I read Dr. Decker's work or Dr.
> Campbell's work, I don't see what I see with Porter. On a practical level,
> if you went through their work and replaced the Remoteness/Proximate
> terminology with Tense terminology, I highly doubt you would see any
> difference. Its something I've already done on a small scale.

My memory of Decker's Mark is that he was happy with 'no-tense'. I wish
him better days, but I'm not sure you've read him right.

> To conclude then, we're in significant agrement with each other. And to be
> perfectly honest, that fact has a lot to do with what you've written in the
> past.
> I don't think that remoteness is the best terminology for the verb - even if
> it
> was "clear why remoteness as such should select past time as opposed to
> future time when interpreted temporally" (Huddleston), the very fact that
> Huddleston and
> Lyons (Semantics, vol 2, 819-820 - I'm convinced Porter's view originated
> from
> Lyons here) discuss remoteness in terms of factuality and counterfactuality
> and thus within the realm of modality/mood should make us suspicous of using
> the term to describe the Greek indicative system.


> But with that said, with the exception of Porter, I would consider it mainly
> a terminological issue that results in much of the same conclusions
> about what the text itself actually means.
> Mike Aubrey

Like I said, I think it gets things inside-out. They miss the
play with time in the historical present and call it a normal aspectual use.
ANd I do wish that people would communicate in the language and use the
system they think they see, because language can recursively correct itself if
people don't plateau-out.


> ________________________________
> From: Randall Buth <randallbuth at gmail.com>
> To: Michael Aubrey <mga318 at yahoo.com>; B Greek <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 11:39:29 AM
> Subject: Aubrey on remoteness as tense?
> Michael Aubrey made some interesting statements on remoteness as
> a metaphor for tense and asked a question or two about it. It does
> provide a nice pause for thought, and hopefully a brief response.
> I'll bring in the relevant pieces below
>>What we need to start seeing in the tense discussion is what Steve
> Runge describe in an SBL session on word order in Hebrew:
> “The hallmark that made the Buth/Holmstedt presentations work was
> each of them understanding the other’s theoretical framework”
> (his emphasis). The unfortunate irony here, is that Dr. Buth has been
> one of the more vocal speakers (at least on B-Greek) against the
> terminology of remoteness/proximity and has not seemed to have
> recognized the difference in perspectives from which Dr. Decker or
> Con Campbell have approached the issue. I would be curious as to
> why that is. Personally, I lean toward the tense terminology, partially
> because of the reasons delineated in point #1 above – with the caveat
> that I would prefer to separate Tense terminology from Aspect
> terminolgy instead of conflating them together>
> First, on the term 'remoteness' being used for 'past tense', Aubrey
> quoted a lengthy discussion from an English grammar dealing with
> contrafactual constructions. Fortunately, Aubrey included a summary
> comment by that author Huddleston:
> [ Huddleston]
>> my own view would be that we do need to recognise distinct senses of
> the past tense, for it is not clear why remoteness as such should select
> past time as opposed to future time when interpreted temporally (we do
> not say He was here yesterday, is here now and was here tomorrow).>
> I must agree with Huddleston, 'remoteness' doesn't explain why English
> past refers to the past and not the future.  Ditto for Greek.
> Secondly, I must ask if 'remoteness' helps explain an aorist infinititve
> from
> a continuative infinitive (PARATATIKON), TO AKOYSAI from TO AKOYEIN?
> It doesn't do it for me. A person could always take a label and define it
> to fit, (farthfetched example: Hebrew has 'red' verbs and 'blue' verbs)
> but the label 'remoteness' does not transparently line up with
> Thirdly, I think I agree with Aubrey, keeping tense terminology as tense
> and aspect terminology aspectual. I'm not sure what he meant, but I
> surely agree that Greek has indicative time and tense terminology
> should be used rather than redefine something else like 'remoteness'
> and then add time to the definitions and restrictions, which Porter,
> Decker, Campbell wouldn't want to do, anyway.
> Fourthly, why should I care whether Greek students recognize time in
> the Greek verb, or why would I object to people who reject time in the
> Greek verb? Maybe, to quote the quote of me above, because I
> understand the other side and have concluded that it's absolute time
> rejection is WRONG. With Hebrew word order, I can generate other
> positions out of any starting point. One simply adds some ADHOC
> flipping rules at the appropriate place (which is what Holmstedt did).
> The analogy with Porter fails, though, because Porter doesn't add
> the appropriate time rules. Consequently, things get a bit inside-out:
> "historic presents" with aspect-only-ism are alleged to be good,
> expected examples of open-ended aspect when in fact they are the
> opposite. They are pragmatic, purposefully surpising examples of
> aspect against expectations and against the situation. Which is
> pragmatically true about their time reference, too.  In discourse,
> where everyone else talks about 'foregrounded' aorist verbs in
> narrative with 'backgrounded ' imperfective verbs, the "Porter"
> camp seems to talk about backgrounded aorists and
> foregrounded presents. So I recommend that students neither
> use nor learn the "aspect-only" framework. Let them learn tense,
> let them learn aspect, and when they are ready to learn about the
> scholarly world of Greek studies, let them learn all about secondary
> literature discussions. And of course, I recommend that the student
> start to learn by using a language, seeing it used and using
> appropriate structures in appropriate contexts.
> In fact, I think that an aspect-only person could cure themselves
> if they would communicate only in Greek for a significant period of
> time and either examine their output or examine their unspoken
> constraints. They would experience the all pervasive nature of Greek
> aspect AND they would learn of temporal constraints in the 'real world'
> system {ie. indicative]. This is probably wishful, naive thinking, but I
> actually believe it. (I've been telling bibilcal studies people for thirty
> years that Greek is the true 'aspect'-prominent language, not Hebrew.
> But that was a another debate, usually about Hebrew, and in far-away
> places.)
> Randall
> --
> Randall Buth, PhD
> www.biblicalulpan.org
> randallbuth at gmail.com
> Biblical Language Center
> Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

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

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