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.

Author: James E. Sedlacek

I have an avid interest in teaching the languages used in the sacred literature texts, explaining the background for each piece of literature and structuring a method to interpret the literature. The goal is that an interpretation is based upon a thorough analysis of the language, text and background for the text.

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