On Tue, Jul 7, 2009 at 05:46, Adnan Majid<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> I am currently working on a language which derives its vocabulary partly
> from classical Greek. My conlang has a simple past tense, and I'm
> deliberating as to which Greek verb form that tense should be derived from.
> A straightforward choice, I guess, would be the Greek perfect, but I was
> also considering the aorist. For the verb "to stop," for instance, the stem
> of my conlang's past tense would either be pepauc- if derived from the
> perfect or epaus- if derived from the aorist.
> I'd like to make my decision based on which tense (perfect or aorist) is
> more commonly used in classical Greek literature, but I'm very new to Greek
> and don't have a strong grasp over reading ancient texts yet. Is one tense
> encountered more often when one reads classical literature? Are there
> differences in the frequencies of these verb tenses when one compares Attic
> Greek with Homeric Greek or Koine?

More common for what purpose? They have different functions.

Note that you can't say, for example, *"I have eaten breakfast
yesterday". Simple past and present perfect are simply not
interchangeable, so comparing frequencies is apples and onions.

As Claude noted, the difference is roughly that between "I ate" and "I
have eaten" -- with the present perfect showing that this has bearing
on the present (I have eaten, and so now I'm full; I have been to New
York, and so I now know what it's like), while the aorist merely
points out that an action happened.

If you want to use other European languages (including Modern Greek)
as precedent, it's notable that present perfect is usually formed with
an auxiliary verb while the simple past is usually simply an inflected
form of the verb. (Spoken French and German are exceptions to this --
they use the "present perfect" form also for the simple past.)

So if I were you, I'd use the aorist as the basis of your simple past form.

Philip Newton <[log in to unmask]>