Patrick C. Ryan
proto-language at email.msn.com
Wed Aug 11 18:06:43 UTC 1999
[ moderator re-formatted ]
Dear Vidhyanath and IEists:
----- Original Message -----
From: Vidhyanath Rao <vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu>
Sent: Monday, August 09, 1999 1:51 PM
I hope you and Jens will not mind a statement or two from an interested
reader of your exchange.
> For example, progressive is a special case of imperfective. But we
> do not confuse the two, nor see progressive as a natural outgrowth of
> imperfective. We need to be just as careful with less familiar categories
> such as completives.
Keeping aspects and tenses clearly separated is a very tricky mental
exercise even when the language under discussion is fairly consistent in
matching form to actual usage but I believe you may be mixing apples and
oranges to call the "progressive a special case of the imperfective"
If one says in English: "He is eating up the food," we have a present
"He was eating up the food, " past progressive perfective;
"He is eating the food, " present progressive imperfective;
"He was eating the food, " past progressive imperfective.
In fact, IMHO, the major original employment of IE -*i, which, added to
"secondary" personal endings yields the "primary" set, was to create a
"progressive" form, with "progressive" understood as designating a verbal
action regarded as a period of time during which something else happened or
Thus, I believe its original employment was to mark a temporal subordinate
clause in the early absence of subordinating conjunctions.
While he ate the up food, I drank. = He was eating up the food (and) I
I believe we can regard the forms with primary endings as virtual
personalized progressive participles.
>>> This makes it harder for me to understand how the aorist became the
>>> perfective. `Started driving', in contrast to `drove', suggests
>>> incomplete action.
Again, I believe you are mixing fruits.
An aorist, e.g. IE *wid-e't, is already perfective. It is also momentary.
The ingressive is a sub-category of *momentary action*, through which the
moment of onset of an action is highlighted.
>>> How do you classify ``I learned that chapter in one month?''
>> [Jens:] I believe as a job for the aorist.
> the aorist is compatible with duration,
According to Lehmann, the aorist is +momentary, hence -durational.
> But languages with a perfective do not do that. As soon as the narrative is
> in the past, they use the perfective.
That does not seem to be true of Russian: pisal (impf. past); napisal (pf.
PATRICK C. RYAN (501) 227-9947; FAX/DATA (501)312-9947 9115 W. 34th St.
Little Rock, AR 72204-4441 USA WEBPAGES:
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803 and PROTO-RELIGION:
ek, at ek hekk, vindga meipi, nftr allar nmu, geiri undapr . . . a ~eim
meipi er mangi veit hvers hann af rstum renn." (Havamal 138)
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