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Participles (Morphological Aspects of)

(1,969 words)

Author(s): John Hewson
Abstract Participles are verbal forms that can have aspect but not tense, and can have direct and indirect objects. Their stem morphology is verbal, but their inflectional morphology is nominal, and they function syntactically as either adjectives or nouns. There is an extraordinary amount of variation of participial forms in Indo-European (IE) languages; English only has two ( breaking, broken); Latin has four (amātus, amāns, amātūrus, amandus) ; Ancient Greek and Sanskrit have up to a dozen. The details of the evolution of these participial systems are also diff…
Date: 2013-11-01

Aspect (and Tense)

(1,884 words)

Author(s): John Hewson
Abstract In the 20th century, it was realized that what had for generations been called tense differences, were very often aspectual differences. The same temporal event can in fact be given two different aspectual representations: I’ve seen that film; I saw it last week. Scholarly investigations of Latin and Greek led to the conclusions, based on the morphological contrasts, that the six forms of the Latin Indicative showed three tenses and two aspects, whereas the six forms of the Ancient Greek Indicative showed two tenses (Past and N…
Date: 2013-11-01

Definiteness/Definite Article

(1,905 words)

Author(s): John Hewson
Abstract Definiteness is a quasi-universal phenomenon of linguistic usage, a by-product of the mental activity of naming, of finding names for experiential items that are perceived, remembered or imagined. In languages that have no articles, it may be expressed by random definers, or even by functional sentence position in Slavic (Krámský 1972) and in non-Indo-European languages such as Finnish (Chesterman 1991). The present article explores the expression of definiteness in Ancient Greek. 1. The notion of Definiteness The noun phrase (henceforth NP) and the prepositional phras…
Date: 2013-11-01

Gnomic Aorist

(552 words)

Author(s): John Hewson
Abstract The Greek gnomic aorist is a perfective past tense that is used to represent a generic fact, habitual truth, or habitual action. A gnomic form (the initial g- is silent in English) is not a particular tense or aspect. Gnomic forms represent a generic fact, a general truth, or a habitual action, and may be found with a variety of different tenses and aspects, in proverbs such as A stitch in time saves nine, Boys will be boys, or Curiosity killed the cat. A major problem for translators is that different languages not only have different verbal systems, but also differe…
Date: 2013-11-01

Structural Linguistics and Greek

(2,173 words)

Author(s): John Hewson
Abstract The governing principle of Structural Linguistics can be stated very simply: every language is a coherent system of systems (Saussure 1916:26, 29, 32, et passim). The phonological system of a language, for example, though not directly observable, is reconstructible from the allophonic data (using the traditional comparative method), and can normally be presented on less than a single page. It typically has subsystems of consonants and vowels, which in turn may have their own subsystems: vowels may have subsyste…
Date: 2014-01-22

Inchoatives/Inceptives

(817 words)

Author(s): John Hewson
Abstract Inchoatives and Inceptives are two slightly different aspectual categories both of which represent the onset of an event. An Inchoative indicates a change of state: the plane landed (and remained on the ground), the sun rose/set (daylight and darkness). An Inceptive results in a new activity: he started to run, read, talk or an action: she started to open/close the door. These examples are of lexical aspect (Aktionsart) but some languages also have grammatical markers for these aspects. The terms inchoative and inceptive are not fundamentally different in meaning; bot…
Date: 2013-11-01