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Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets wrote:
> 2010/1/21 Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]>
snip]
>>
>> Of course, an utterance can be both perfect and perfective: compare "I
>> arrived"  with "I have arrived".  Both are perfective, but the second
>> one is also perfect.
>>
> 
> That's true of the English perfect, but not necessarily of the perfect in
> other languages. 

It's true that the English "perfect tense" can have a past 
perfective or a present perfect meaning. The same is true, 
to an even greater degree, of the Latin "perfect tense" and 
French "passé composé", which we called the "perfect" when I 
was at school.

> In Greek, for instance, the perfect is very much an aspect,
> different from both the perfective and imperfective. While the perfective
> describes an action as a single point in time, and the imperfective is
> focussed on the internal structure of the action (hence its continuous and
> habitual meanings), the perfect is focussed on the *result* of the action.
> Due to that meaning, the Greek perfect can't take any indication of time,
> like the English perfect can. For instance, "έχω χαθεί" means "I'm lost"
> rather than "I've been lost". Just as you can't say in English *"I'm lost
> for 2 hours", you can't add an indication of time to the Greek expression.
> If you want to say "I've been lost for 2 hours", you use the present tense:
> "χάνομαι 2 ώρες".

Very interesting. It seems that having confused perfect & 
perfective in the Koine and dumping all the ancient perfect 
forms, modern Greek has re-instated the perfect aspect with 
synthetic forms. The trouble with the Koine, of course, was 
that it was an internationalized form of Greek, i.e. people 
were bringing their L1 patters into their L2 Greek. It would 
seem that when left to themselves, the Greeks do find a 
place for an aspect that focuses on the result. Interesting.

> The English perfect is an anomaly, and as you write it's indeed not exactly
> an aspect. That said, all English tenses are a bit jumbled when it comes to
> aspect. 

This IMO is true of western European languages generally. 
The text book "tenses" are mix of tense and aspect.

> If you want a good impression of how the perfective, imperfective and
> perfect aspects differ, Greek is a good starting point. Besides its
> indicative present that doesn't distinguish perfective and imperfective
> aspect, and its imperative that doesn't always distinguish them, 

The ancients did better. The imperative clearly 
distinguished imperfective ('present imperative), perfective 
imperative ('aorist imperative') and perfect imperative 
('perfect imperative' [rarer than the other two]).

> all other
> tenses and moods have pretty much a strict three-way distinction between the
> aspects (the aorist is very much a strict past perfective, the imperfect is
> a past imperfective, and the pluperfect is close to a true past perfect,
> i.e. indicating a result in the past).

-- 
Ray
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