petegray petegray at
Fri Aug 13 19:17:38 UTC 1999

> Pat said:
> According to Lehmann, the aorist is +momentary, hence -durational.

It can still be applied to an action which continued over a long period.
For example, ebasileuse in Greek.   This would be used when the length of
duration was not the focus.

At the risk of teaching my grandmothers to suck eggs, let's remember that in
Classical Greek, although there are several uses for the present and aorist
stems, two contrasts stand out as very common, if not normative, and neither
really has the aorist as "+momentary":

(i) past tense: imperfect vs aorist with augment.   Here the distinction
(IMHO) is not duration / momentary but rather background event / main event.
The imperfect tells us that something was going on before, during and/or
after the main event.   If you like, the distinction is between description
and narrative.   The same usage is found strongly in Latin.

(ii) non-indicative (leaving aside the aorist participle, which retains a
past flavour): here the aorist is neutral, so the use of the present stem
puts a marked stress on continuity.   So the distinction is not between two
members, both of them marked, but between continuous and neutral.


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