Article published in:Tense and Aspect: The contextual processing of semantic indeterminacy
Edited by Svetlana Vogeleer, Walter De Mulder and Ilse Depraetere
[Belgian Journal of Linguistics 12] 1998
► pp. 149–173
"Tell me, Socrates ..."
Verbal Aspect, Focus and Questioning Strategies in Ancient Greek
Abstract. This paper reports on a research in progress on the aspectual opposition between two major stems of verbal inflection in Ancient Greek: Present and Aorist. By studying a corpus of forms taken from Plato's philosophical dialogues, we try to elucidate the relationship between the choice of an aspectual stem and the meaning of the verb in the situation of utterance. Our selected items are verbal forms used to invite the addressee to speak. The Invitation to speak is a connection between two consecutive utterance situations; it pragmatically implies a specific way of causing the addressee to act. Through a detailed analysis of the part played by non-inflectional person markers (stressed pronouns as opposed to simple endings), connective particles and adverbials, it appears that Aorist is used when the agent seems to be presented as opposed to another one and the process is presented as interrupted, whereas Present is used in the case of continuation or resumption of the speech process. Focus is preferably put on one of the actants, to mark the opposition and newness of the Aorist process, whereas putting the emphasis on a continuing process requires the Present stem.
Published online: 01 January 1999