Saturday, June 03, 2017

Chrys Caragounis Vs. Stanley Porter (Part VIII)-Conclusion

The conclusion of my Caragounis vs. Porter entries has been too long in coming; nevertheless, I would like to make a few remarks in closing this discussion. The comments herein pertain to Caragounis, pages 333-336.

Caragounis aims many criticisms at Porter's aspect theory including how aspect is defined. For Porter, Greek verbal aspect grammaticalizes "the author's reasoned subjective choice of conception of a process" (Caragounis, The Development of Greek and the New Testament, 333).

Porter's definition for aspect is supposed to be less than clear, it's unintelligible, recondite, opaque, and ponderous although Caragounis' main objection is likely that Porter makes aspect subjective or speaker-dependent and tenseless. Other things to observe about Porter's aspect definition is that he's one of the first theorists to define Greek aspect, he clearly distinguishes aspect from Aktionsart , and Porter bases his theory on interrelationships between divergent "tense forms" in Greek. Caragounis still does not find Porter's theory very useful.

Page 333 introduces another technical term: deixis, and Porter depends on John Lyons (a linguist) to shape his conception of deixis. Deixis itself is a hard concept to grasp at first. Moreover, linguists differentiate between person, temporal, and spatial deixis. I learned to think of deixis along the lines of indexicals or demonstrative terms. At any rate, the important consideration for now is temporal deixis.

According to Porter, temporal deixis (temporal indexicality) is indicated by a) lexical items; b) words like arti or palin; c) "anaphorical words" (e.g., near or remote demonstratives, determiners and pronominals). An example of lexical items would be the Greek word, nun.

Caragounis' dissatisfaction with Porter's employment of deixis is multifaceted. He insists that Porter does not give specific NT examples where Greek adverbs determine temporal reference for verbs. Moreover, the "lexical items" usually are missing when one examine actual cases of Greek discourse, but yet Porter still contends that the present verb form references the present "and the imperfect and aorist" point to the past (334). Hence, Caragounis writes, "The time reference seems to reside in the tense forms themselves" (Ibid.).

Do Porter's explanations suffice? Do they account for general tendencies of the Greek aorist or the present tense form? Caragounis thinks he has shown that Porter relies on anomalies, special cases and obscure explanations to make his point. He has not established that ancient Greek is solely aspectual, that is, tenseless.

No comments: