Register Variation and Tense/Aspect/Mood Categories in Ancient Greek: Problems and Perspectives

in Variation and Change in Ancient Greek Tense, Aspect and Modality
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Abstract

Among the grammatical features whose preferential use in Ancient Greek is at least partly determined by considerations of linguistic register, we also find a number of phenomena relating to the categories of tense, aspect, and mood. However, these are not always easy to pin down, both because register variation may intersect with diachronic and/or regional variation and because they rarely manifest themselves as absolute rules. After exploring the methodological issues thus arising, the present article argues that a comprehensive understanding of linguistic change can nevertheless be reached only when patterns of distribution across registers are studied as carefully as patterns of dialectal and chronological distribution. A case in point is the development of the Greek perfect in classical times: the spread of the so-called ‘resultative perfect’ was clearly promoted by some registers more than by others.

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