Phase 6 Update

Now that my whole dissertation has been through 20 drafts, each revised from feedback on the previous, I am ready to submit it for examination.  I submitted it to the electronic thesis submission system at the University of Manchester, and received my confirmation number and a pdf of the whole file plus a standard cover sheet all in 30 seconds or so.  This was very fast.  My supervisor was standing by should any problems occur, but none did.   My examiners have been chosen and they will be notified shortly of my submission.

I next sent it to a press who would run two copies for the examiners and send them to my college for distribution.  After going through their whole process three times before I could pay, I found out that they would not bind anything as big as my document (438 pages).  I contacted them to see what was wrong, but they could only handle smaller theses.  I had already paid, so I had to apply for a reimbursment.  I contacted another press, who happened to be a little cheaper, and they assured me that they could handle the length.  I made it through the three tries before payment (something is not quite right with the online ordering service), paid for the service, and got my confirmation.

Three days later, the package still had not arrived where it needed to go, so I had to contact the press and provide more detail on the address, so that it could arrive the next day.  It did arrive and was subsequently sent out to my examiners.  I recieved word a few weeks later that I would defend my dissertation on March 18, so I began to make travel and lodging arrangements.

Phase 5 Update

After compiling the corpus, it was time to pull out the relevent instances of the Perfect tense-form and analyze where they were found, and how they were used by authors of different periods.  The research concentrated on the letters of Plato, Paul the Apostle, and Basil of Caesarea to provide temporal landmarks for the Perfect tense study.  These were then compared with several interesting results.  First that Paul’s usage of the Perfect appears generally central in its diachronic shift from a state to a past tense.  This was as expected.  More interestingly, Paul uses Perfect tenses imbedded in supplemental clauses more often than do the other writers, and uses a wider range of active lexemes in that role than do others.  Another key observation is that all writers regardless of time period used the Perfect in both stative and eventive ways, discernable by the adverbs collocated with the verbs.

The writing of the dissertation begins in earnest now with the data collected.  Much of the Pauline data is used in chapter 4, and diachronic epistolary data is used in chapter 5.  The comparison and constrast of Paul with the other letter writers is also in chapter 5.  I submitted a first draft on each new chapter and compiled a first draft of the dissertation using the feedback I recieved on each chapter.  This first whole draft was the first time I composed an Introduction or conclusion.

Phase 4 Update

Now I began to collect Greek letters for the corpus.  My goal is to collect letters from before 500 BCE up through to 500 CE.  The purpose of this range is to have a large data set that is that diachronically balanced, in the hopes of situating the New Testament letters within the history of the Greek language.  Upon a short inspection, the New Testament letters also have the features of ethical treatise and legal argumentation as well.  So, treatises and arguments from the philosophers will also be considered important for the analysis corpus.  This way, New Testament letters can be compared with a broad range of Greek letters, argumentation pieces, and ethical treatises.

The next step is to decide what should go in and what should be left out.  It would not be necessary to have every letter, legal discourse, or ethical discourse, since that would make the corpus too large to manage all the issues.  More importantly, collecting all the available pieces would unbalance the corpus by weighting it too heavily for certain centuries.

In an effort to keep the corpus balanced diachronically, and to maintain manageability, only a sample the pieces are taken from each era.  The sample would include a size of text comparable to that in the eras of least available texts.  Also, only letters of a certain size were included as many minute letters with little more than a quick note are available.  It is deemed better to exclude these as they didn’t have many special constructions due to their brevity.

Phase 3 Update

After being exposed to two views regarding verbal aspect, I was exposed to several new fields of linguistics, where more was done in the areas of statistics and analyzing large data sets.  Corpus Linguistics was one of these fields.  Here, large corpora (bodies) of literature are compiled and then marked so that every item that a researcher wishes to search for gets a tag.  Search engines then search for tags and report the text that is associated with the tag.  A large part of the work is to manually verify the tags in order to ensure reliability of the search finding appropriate text.  Since the search engine can only find material through its tags, it is quite important to have accurate tags.

Next, it is important to search for an item in the corpora relevant to some other item.  These items can be grammatical, lexical, or structural.  One could tag almost anything and then have a search engine look for it.  My hope is to build a corpora of Greek Letters (Epistles) that is tagged for tense, mood, aspect, lexical items. and lexical morphemes.  Currently several software packages do most of these things, such as Logos, Bibleworks, and Perseus Digital Library, but none of them tag everything relevant to this purpose.  Search engines already exist that can perform the searches, but the corpora as such does not yet exist.  Besides the tags, the individual letters have not yet been collected into a large database.

The problem with all of their tag systems is that none of them tag aspect or specific morphemes for separate analysis.  One cannot set up any of their engines to locate where a perfective verb is collocated with a temporal adverb, because the verbs are no so marked.  While one could set up a search for a particular tense-form and a certain adverb, this forces the search to be divided by tense-form paradigms rather than by aspectual category, based on their respective morphemes.  Also certain adjectives and adverbs contain verbal aspect morphemes that also behave like those in verbs, but currently no way exists to search for specifically those items to compare them in analysis.  I am hoping that what I put together will be a step forward for future research in this area.

Phase 2 Update

I decided to read more into Linguistic literature after reading the works on Greek within Biblical Studies.  I included especially the discussion of Indo-European linguistics on verbs to see how analysts of other languages handled the Perfect tenses.

Some of these scholars were Osten Dahl, Eystein Dahl, and Mari Jean Broman Olsen for their cross-linguistic perspectives.  I also read Bernard Comrie, Arnim von Stechow, and Corien Bari, regarding time and aspect and the possible nature of their relationship.

These scholars understood more-or-less verbal aspect in its connection to time, where the previous set of scholars studied it in its separate uniqueness from temporal matters.  The first group explained verbal aspect as a subjective element separate from time, but the second group explained verbal aspect in its connection to time.  The kind of time they see connected to verbal aspect is not absolute time or deictic time, but a relationship between the event time and reference time.

The Perfective or PFV is illustrated as below:

<————–>  Reference Time

     |—-|         Event Time

and the Imperfective or IMPFV is illustrated next:

     <—->       Reference Time

|————–| Event Time

In the two cases, for perfective, the reference time is broader than the event time and for the imperfective the reference time is less broad than the event time.  In other words, the event time exceeds the reference time.

Tense has a different relationship to time than does verbal aspect.  It is the relationship between the Event Time and the Speech Time.  For example, if the Event Time precedes the Speech Time, than its tense is past.  If both overlap, then its tense is present.  If the Event Time occurs after the Speech Time, then its tense is Future.

These are two different kind of relationships, since verbal aspect is understood as one of overlap, and tense as one of directional distance between both of its relevant components.  Also, only one element is common to both relationships – that is Event Time.  Their difference allows tense and aspect to be different entities, yet both be related to time somehow.

Both the subjective portrayal idea about verbal aspect and the temporal relationship between Event Time and Reference Time seem to be true of verbal aspect, but it appears that one of these two are likely to be an entailment of the other.  Either the precise overlap of Event Time and Reference Time causes a particular subjective portrayal to occur, or the subjective portrayal causes the precise overlap to occur.  The overlap of Event Time and Reference Time does not necessarily create a portrayal and especially not a subjective one.

There appears to be no way to argue for a speaker who is exercising a subjective portrayal from the fact that the Event Time and Reference Time overlap in a specific way.  However it is possible to argue that a speaker who exercises a subjective portrayal of a situation creates the exact relationship between the Event Time and Reference Time by the fact the speaker chose to portray a situation in a particular way.

Whenever a speaker subjectively portrays a situation as whole/complete/entire, then the speaker uses a broad view of the of Reference Time in order to capture the whole Event.  This is what creates the relationship illustrated as perfective above.  Likewise, when a speaker portrays a situation as incomplete, then the speaker uses a narrow view of the Reference Time that is unable to capture the whole Event.  This creates the relationship illustrated as imperfective.

Therefore, the effects on time noticed by the second set of scholars are properly understood as entailments of the subjective portrayal discussed by the first set of scholars.  They are not and cannot be the same thing, although they share a one-to-one relationship between portrayal type and relationship type of Event Time to Reference Time.  The fact that the Event Time and Reference Time overlap in certain ways relevant to each aspect leads many to analyze verbal aspect in light of the relationship between Event Time and Reference Time, but in this case, they are precisely analyzing the effects of verbal aspect rather than verbal aspect itself.

Those who criticize subjective portrayal on the basis of the fact that the specific overlaps of Event Time and Reference Time occur, and that these relationships can explain verbal aspect better, simply have not analyzed that these temporal effects are likely derived from this subjective portrayal.

Personal Update

This late-Winter and Spring conference season has been an emotional roller-coaster.  This past November, I saw how my research was aligning itself into a pattern for me to write my dissertation.  I came up with several arguments for what I understand the verbal aspect to be for the Greek synthetic Perfect tense-form.

I needed to obtain some vetting for my arguments and feedback for the way I collated them into a comprehensive group from a variety of professionals.  I sent in several proposals to various biblical and linguistic conferences to obtain an opportunity to present my ideas to the kind of professionals I needed to hear from.  It was a busy time of reading proposal requirements, filling out the online forms, and twisting my abstracts and papers to fit the various requirements for each conference.  Some of the conferences would begin before I was done sending in proposals to the others.

Altogether, I sent eleven proposals for this academic year.  So far, two have come back with rejection letters, and two were accepted.  I presented an argument from morphology and a model of verbs to the two conferences who accepted, and received a variety of types of feedback.  The results were that my paper on verb models needs some more work, and the argument from morphology paper is publish-worthy.

All the while, I had a chapter to turn in connecting the dots for the above arguments.  This chapter was well-received and this gave me some encouragement while I was getting proposal rejections from the various conferences.  Now is the time to work on putting together the corpus, so that I can write my methodology chapter before I need to write my next presentations over the remaining arguments.

This is the year to start getting my ideas out there with the hope of feedback before my final write-up of the dissertation.  I also hope to get a couple of articles published from a couple of my presentations.  It is time to begin the job hunt as well, so I am starting the application process to see where that leads.

Introduction to my Research: Phase 1

I became interested in the verbal aspect theory as it relates to the Greek verb system.  I began my reading with Stanley Porter’s volume, Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament with Reference to Tense and Mood.  I read Buist Fanning’s volume, Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek, very soon afterwards.  I could see where they approached the topic using different framework, and reached many similar conclusions.  The two works also contained some stark differences.  Chiefly, they differed regarding whether or not the Greek language contain markings for tense in the verb morphology, and they differed on the semantic nature and definition of the Perfect.  screen-shot-12-02-16-at-12-11-pmLater I read Kenneth McKay’s volume, A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek: An Aspectual Approach.  McKay emphasizes many of the same things as in the first two, yet makes a stronger emphasis on keeping a distinction between actions and states.  I soon read the JSNT Supplement volume edited by D. A. Carson, Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics: Open Questions in Current Research.  In this volume, several challenges were given by several scholars to both Porter and Fanning.  I read Constantine Campbell’s work a bit later, Verbal Aspect, the Indicative Mood, and Narrative.  Campbell lays out an idea for the Greek Perfect that is different from either Porter or Fanning.  Having read these works as a starting point, I realised that the debate over the Greek Perfect tense-form was largely unresolved.  I greatly appreciate the efforts of these scholars for engaging in this complex topic, and I am grateful that their works made this topic accessible to me.