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Homeric Perfect

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Homeric Perfect

Postby Thucydides » Sun Jun 20, 2004 6:05 pm

Would it be fair to say that Homeric 'perfects' are in fact present statives?
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Re: Homeric Perfect

Postby annis » Mon Jun 21, 2004 2:32 am

Thucydides wrote:Would it be fair to say that Homeric 'perfects' are in fact present statives?


Yes.
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Postby Thucydides » Mon Jun 21, 2004 8:54 pm

Always?
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Postby annis » Mon Jun 21, 2004 9:57 pm

Thucydides wrote:Always?


I believe so. Sihler (New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin) is entirely confident, and locates the development of the "past" sense of the perfect to the 5th century,

Sec. 551, p.567 wrote:In G from the 5th century BC on, the perf. functions much like the NE phrasal verbs with auxiliary have (that is, action completed in the past but with implication of a continuing effect or state). The further step, the use of the tense as a simple past tense, the "historical perfect" or the "narrative perfect", is sometimes observed in Attic writers, and becomes common in the Hellenistic period. Ths amounted to a loss of a functional contrast between the perf. and the aor., which proved fatal for the perf.; in any case it disappeared except for a few survivals passing as aorist forms.


(G = Greek, NE = New (or modern) English.)

Two more relevant quotes from the "Stative Verbs" section:

In Homer still, and also in the Rigveda (though less commonly), the prefect indicates the state of the subject. (A fuller definition - `PRESENT state of the subject' - is a misconception; 407 fn.)


So according to Sihler at least, my answer isn't quite correct. The perfect is stative, but not tensed. I'm not sure I grok this.

And finally,

Despite the immense (and obvious) antiquity of transitive statives like *woyde `knows' and *memone `has in mind', it is nevertheless repeated by respected authorities that the meaning of the perfect in Homer and the Vedas was typically intransitive.


Hope this helps.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
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Postby Paul » Tue Jun 22, 2004 4:59 am

Hi,

Some late night musings:

a. the greek perfect does have its roots in PIE stative verbs
b. in Homer the perfect is used of an action whose resulting state persists in the subject. The Homeric perfect is, as Palmer states, essentially intransitive. He gives an example:

[face=SPIonic]spa/rta le/luntai[/face] - the cords are loosened.

c. in later greek one begins to see the development of the so-called 'resultative' perfect in which the resulting state persists in the object. This resultative perfect gives rise to types like:

[face=SPIonic]le/luke spa/rta[/face] - he has loosened the cords.

d. this active construction evidently collides at some point with the aorist which substitutes for such perfects. This results in less frequent use of the perfect.

With reqard to Sihler's footnote to his section 407: I have wrestled with that footnote several times before today. His argument seems to be:

1. the past tense of a stative verb signifies the termination of the state
2. this termination is equivalent to the negative of the state in the present tense

Therefore 'state' shows no consistent tense relationships. Example (after Sihler):

1. I owned Bermuda (past tense) == 2. I no longer own Bermuda (present tense)

If a stative has any temporal force, then how is possible for this identity to exist? I think this is what Sihler is saying...

Cordially,

Paul
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Postby Thucydides » Tue Jun 22, 2004 9:20 am

Thanks a lot. I thought for a while there that we were having a Laconic answer competition! (Statives?... Yes... Always? ...Usually) :lol:

How stupid of me to write "present" stative. As Sihler goes to great lengths to show, "present stative" is an oxymoron.

I'd never really looked at that footnote before.

That subject/object thing is very interesting.
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homeric pluperfect

Postby mbdittmar » Tue Jun 22, 2004 7:51 pm

By extrapolation of the above discussion, Does this mean that a homeric pluperfect has the meaning of a simple past?
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