Fri Aug 20 16:32:30 UTC 1999

Momentary-Durative is a misleading set of terms,
because BOTH are highly marked and specialized.

Perfective-Imperfective in their standard uses
probably work much better for the needs of this discussion.

"Momentary" implies a suddenness or quickness which is
not implied by Perfective.
It is merely ONE USE of a typical perfective.

"Durative" implies a lasting over a
considerable time, which is not necessary to all imperfectives.
It is merely ONE USE of a typical imperfective.

The primary distinction is rather more usefully one of
"treated as an indivisible unit"
vs. "treated as having extent"
(hence imperfective as context within which a unit-event perfective occurs
or as marked ongoing, either way).

Once we change these terms,
then the communication from Peter Gray today looks quite different.

Peter Gray writes:

>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":

[comment: these ARE however typical uses of a perfective]

Peter Gray writes:

>(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.

[comment:  this is an archetypal pair of uses of perfectives
(for the main event line) vs. imperfectives (for background)
in narrative structures world-wide.]

Peter Gray writes:

>(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.

[comment:  this is also a fairly typical pair of uses of perfective
vs. imperfective, combined with what is often a relic category,
the non-indicative often preserving forms which at an earlier historical
stage were the primary perfectives.  Examples include the "precative"
of later Akkadian, Babylonian, etc., and the "jussive" of classical Arabic,
both derived from the old preterite (primarily perfective).
Please see the maps of the paths of these changes in Lloyd Anderson:
"The Perfect as a Universal and as a Language-Specific Category",
pp.229-264 in Paul J. Hopper, ed.:
Tense-Aspect: Between Semantics & Pragmatics.
Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins 1982.
Other articles in that same volume address the event line / background

Best wishes,
Lloyd Anderson

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