On the Contribution of Slovenian Linguistics to the History of the Ancient Greek Perfect
Keywords:ancient Greek, grammatical tenses, perfect, theory of natural syntax
AbstractAn important contribution to the history of the Ancient Greek perfect is the study of Erika Mihevc-Gabrovec, The Disappearance of the Perfect in Late Greek (La disparition du parfait dans le grec de la basse époque). In terms of theory and content, her study continues the work of Pierre Chantraine, but somewhat diverges from her predecessor’s views on the issue of the merger between the aorist and the perfect, identifying examples of the use of the perfect even in an – according to Pierre Chantraine – relatively late period.
Some years after the publication of Erika Mihevc-Gabrovec’s book, the question of when the aorist and the perfect may have merged was raised again, to be addressed by McKay in a number of articles. Today, the views on the subject are strongly divided.
As argued by the author of this paper, one of the setbacks in examining the merger between the aorist and the perfect concerns the methodology, since researchers have tended to rely exclusively on their sense of language. A possible new approach is offered in the framework of the Slovenian theory of Natural Syntax, which has from the start paid considerable attention to English sentences of the I believe her to be intelligent type. The paper describes similar sentences in New Testament Greek, terming them “sentences of the λέγουσινἀνάστασινμὴεἶναι type”. In New Testament Greek, they display a tendency to use the present infinitive of stative verbs; relatively frequent is also the perfect infinitive (of non-stative verbs), while, as already noted in other studies, these sentences – at least in New Testament Greek – avoid the aorist infinitive. Such sentences thus bear witness to the fact that the aorist and the perfect were not fully interchangeable in New Testament Greek; the status of the aorist and perfect infinitives in sentences of the λέγουσινἀνάστασινμὴεἶναι type should also be taken into account in researching the history of the perfect in the later phases of the Greek language.
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