Ancient Graffiti Allegedly Found.

The Guardian has a story by Helena Smith, “World’s earliest erotic graffiti found in unlikely setting on Aegean island” (subhead “Racy inscriptions and phalluses carved into Astypalaia’s rocky peninsula shed light on very private lives of ancient Greece,” hubba hubba!) that’s been making the rounds, and naturally I was curious (thanks for the link, Eric!). Usually, when newspapers report scientific news they cite some more sober publication that you can check to see what’s actually going on, but here it’s apparently just an interview with “Dr Andreas Vlachopoulos, a specialist in prehistoric archaeology,” so all you have is the story itself, which (all due respect to the Grauniad, which I’m fond of) is almost certain to be inaccurate and wildly inflated. But assuming the whole thing isn’t an invention on the part of some disaffected (and soon to be canned) member of the newspaper’s staff, it’s certainly interesting. Here’s the nub of the story:

Chiselled into the outcrops of dolomite limestone that dot the cape, the inscriptions have provided invaluable insight into the private lives of those who inhabited archaic and classical Greece. One, believed to have been carved in the mid-sixth century BC, proclaimed: “Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona (Νικασίτιμος οἶφε Τιμίονα).

“We know that in ancient Greece sexual desire between men was not a taboo,” added Dr Vlachopoulos, who returned to the far-flung island last week to resume work with a team of topographers, photographers, conservationists and students. “But this graffiti … is not just among the earliest ever discovered. By using the verb in the past continuous [tense], it clearly says that these two men were making love over a long period of time, emphasising the sexual act in a way that is highly unusual in erotic artwork.”

First off, translating οἴφω as “mount” is ludicrous; even if you don’t want to use “fuck” there are all sorts of printable words like “screw.” (There’s a good short description of the Greek word here; I hadn’t realized it was primarily Doric, and I was surprised that the etymology is unknown — I had thought it was from PIE *yebh-, kin to Sanskrit yabh- and Russian eb-.) In the second place, the name should be Timion, not “Timiona”; Τιμίονα is an accusative form. But hey, it’s a newspaper story, and I await scholarly publication.

Comments

  1. Your link on οἴφω is from 2006 and referencing a publication decades old, but more has been done in the meantime. Beekes in his 2010 Etymological Dictionary of Greek writes: “The [Sanskrit and Slavic] synonyms can hardly be separated from οἴφω. Moreover, Tocharian B yäp- ‘to enter’ is formally identical. It is supposed that Tocharian preserves the original meaning and that the other languages started to use the word as a euphemism, perhaps after the departure of the Tocharians. [...] LIV reconstructs a prefix ὁ‐ added to a root *iebʰ to account for the Greek form, but it is better to assume a reduplicated present *h₃e-h₃ibʰ as suggested by Chung 2007, since the prefix mentioned hardly occurs in Greek.”

  2. Blasted italics. Could you please add a closing <i> tag after “yäp-”. And since this is a site where people are likely to use markup to encode linguistics notation, perhaps you could add a preview button so one could get it right before posting? There are several plugins for WordPress that could provide comment previews.

  3. “I hadn’t realized it was primarily Doric, and I was surprised that the etymology is unknown”

    Doric, hnh? It’s not for nothing that there’s a variety of cucumber called “Spartan Valor”. The Spartans were known for a thoroughly instrumental view of heterosexual relations. And it seems they were not really alone in that view, maybe just a little extreme.

  4. J. W. Brewer says:

    I should think there were plenty of instances of English-language graffiti over the last century of two to the effect that (to paraphrase euphemistically) “A has repetitively engaged in same-sex erotic contact with B” that in context were obviously meant to be scurrilous or pejorative. Perhaps some clueless archaeologist will find some of these centuries from now and decide that the conventional timeline of when the taboo against such behavior in Anglophone society declined is in need of revision.

  5. Dan Milton says:

    If I’m right in remembering reading about these graffiti ten or fifteen years ago, there should be a formal report somewhere that may take some searching to find.

  6. Your link on οἴφω is from 2006 and referencing a publication decades old, but more has been done in the meantime.

    I’m not surprised, but the derivation from *yebh- is not new — Buck presents it as established fact in his Dictionary of Selected Synonyms (1949).

  7. Yes, I’m also confused by the claim that it lacks etymology. Connection of οἴφω with Ved. yabh-, Russ. еб-, etc. has been upheld for over a century, but the specific details of how you get οἴφω from *(H)iebʰ- have changed since pre-laryngeal theory IE. Brugmann (IF 29 1911/1912 p.238n1) apparently thought the extra ὀ- was from the preposition with zero-grade *ibʰ-. Cowgill in “Evidence in Greek” (1965:166), Beekes’s Ph.D. dissertation on the laryngeals in Greek (1969:55) and Peters’s Untersuchungen zur Vertretung der indogermanischen Laryngale im Griechischen (1980:96-98), have all submitted various other laryngealistic interpretations to explain the initial ὀ- in Greek. I rather like the reduplicated zero-grade *h₃e-h₃ibʰ- idea for its economy, although several alternatives involving *h₃ have been proposed to get rid of the extra initial ὀ-.

  8. Also, we’ve had similar inscriptions of this sort for a really long time now. At least, there’s a lot of really old 6th-5th century smut carved on the rocks of Thera published in Inscriptiones Graecae XII,3 (1898; e.g. No. 537: http://epigraphy.packhum.org/inscriptions/main?url=oi%3Fikey%3D76062%26bookid%3D20%26region%3D7%26subregion%3D18 ), although I don’t know whether the inscriptions there include similar graphic penises next to them.

  9. euphemism

    I think calling the sexual meaning a “euphemism” is anachronistic. Sexual entering is just a particualr case of entering in general, so I would rather speak of “specialization”.

  10. David Marjanović says:

    I rather like the reduplicated zero-grade *h₃e-h₃ibʰ- idea for its economy

    I can’t remember where I read that, but somebody has connected Ζέφυρος to this source and postulated metathesis between *h₃eibʰ- and *h₃iebʰ- to account for all the reflexes, the first form regularly yielding οἶφ- in Greek, the second regularly losing the laryngeal without a trace and yielding ζέφ-. Shouldn’t *h₃e-h₃ibʰ- result in something beginning with ω-?

    “West wind” and “fuck” may seem like a rather ludicrously wide semantic span, but Wikipedia knows: “The gentlest of the winds, Zephyrus is known as the fructifying wind, the messenger of spring”, and… um… yeah.

    I think calling the sexual meaning a “euphemism” is anachronistic.

    Would you count “And Adam knew his wife” as a euphemism? How about “they became one flesh”?

  11. Tom Recht says:

    Shouldn’t *h₃e-h₃ibʰ- result in something beginning with ω-?

    No, because the laryngeal is intervocalic, so wouldn’t cause lengthening.

  12. Would you count “And Adam knew his wife” as a euphemism?

    Yes, i would. But the Greeks weren’t Hebrews.

  13. This is really nothing new. These obscene graffiti have been known for a century or more. There’s one from Thera/Santorini that has been dated to the eighth century, one of the earliest surviving examples of Greek alphabetic writing. And it’s questionable whether they’re records of sexual encounters, or just insults scrawled by nasty teenage boys.

  14. it’s questionable whether they’re records of sexual encounters, or just insults scrawled by nasty teenage boys.

    Just so. Prehistoric archaeologists in sage consultation over a scrawl on the wall of a public toilet in Piccadilly Circus.

    As for “Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona”, they might just have been playing horsey and rider.

  15. David: I’m pretty sure that Cowgill discusses that proposed etymology near his discussion of *(H)iebʰ- in his aforementioned “Evidence in Greek” (In Evidence for Laryngeals, ed. by W. Winter, 142-80. [The Hague, 1965]), although he wasn’t the originator of it, since I recall he rejects it there on various grounds. But Ζέφυρος as the futator is a pretty fun idea though…

    Shouldn’t *h₃e-h₃ibʰ- result in something beginning with ω-?i

    No, because the laryngeal is intervocalic, so wouldn’t cause lengthening.

    This is a good point. I’m not sure if ‘intervocalic laryngeal’ is satisfactory and I need to rethink that part, as I don’t see why that should make it exempt from producing †ωἴφω, though I welcome counterexamples. Osthoff’s shortening might accommodate it, but that’s only applicable in closed syllables if I recall.

    Non-reduplicated zero-grade *h₃ibʰ- could also work. In this case I think the problem is where you get your weak zero-grade from and how it gets generalised into the singular (i.e. first the original athematic root present (as reconstructed in LIV²) being something like *h₃ibʰ-énti : h₃i̯ébʰ-ti :: h₃ibʰ-entih₃ibʰ-ti then secondarily thematised within Greek, or something… Again, there seems to be several ways of explaining the specifics and it’s hard to choose between them.)

  16. Totally irrelevant, but I’m going to say it anyway: my post title suddenly reminded me of “An Austrian army, awfully arrayed.”

  17. David Marjanović says:

    the laryngeal is intervocalic, so wouldn’t cause lengthening

    Oh. I didn’t know that.

  18. Rodger C says:

    Unwise, unjust, unmerciful Ukraine indeed!

  19. Perhaps you should have titled it “Greek Graffiti Groundlessly Granted . . .” — hmmm . . . “Gredibility”? Still looking for the right word to end with.

  20. Dmitry Prokofyev says:

    Michael: Gravitas?

  21. Tom Recht says:

    I’m not sure if ‘intervocalic laryngeal’ is satisfactory and I need to rethink that part, as I don’t see why that should make it exempt from producing †ωἴφω, though I welcome counterexamples. Osthoff’s shortening might accommodate it, but that’s only applicable in closed syllables if I recall.

    The idea that only coda laryngeals cause lengthening is standard; cf. e.g. ναῦφι, ναύτης (not †νηυ-) from *néh₂u-. Though even if it did give †ωἴφω that should still be subject to Osthoff’s Law, I believe (cf. ναυσί also with short α, though here from *néh₂w-).

    Non-reduplicated zero-grade *h₃ibʰ- could also work.

    Shouldn’t that give ἰφ-?

  22. Tom Recht says:

    Sorry, the part about Osthoff’s Law in my comment didn’t make sense: ναυσί is of the same type as ναῦφι and ναύτης, of course.

  23. My despair over the complexity of past tense forms in ancient Greek has now deepened to find out that they were fiddling with its various implications even while writing about sex on walls.

    If they’d had television, they would have had fewer past tenses.

  24. The French have TV, yet they have just as many past tenses as ancient Greek: imperfect, aorist, perfect and pluperfect, vs. imparfait, passé simple, passé composé, and pluparfait. So do the Italians and the Spanish. In fact, there’s one more in French, the passé surcomposé.

  25. Actually, the Greek perfect is really a kind of stative present.

  26. Rodger C says:

    As is the English “present perfect.”

  27. David Marjanović says:

    My despair over the complexity of past tense forms in ancient Greek has now deepened to find out that they were fiddling with its various implications even while writing about sex on walls.

    You have no idea how often I’ve made this “observation” about the tense/aspect system of English. It expresses so much that has to be put in separate words (or not expressed at all) in German!

    The French have TV, yet they have just as many past tenses as ancient Greek:

    Try Spanish instead; in French, passé simple and passé composé have the exact same meaning, the difference is stylistic.

    (The remarkable similarity of this to the German situation has been noted in the literature, but I digress…)

    In fact, there’s one more in French, the passé surcomposé.

    …I didn’t even know it exists. :-o

    It looks identical in composition to the Upper German pluperfect, where the simple past tense has died out (for most or all verbs depending on the dialect), so its use in the pluperfect was replaced by the compound past. Interestingly, this form is now spreading north and has reached people of my generation in Kiel. A prescriptivist who doesn’t understand it has called it Ultra-Perfekt

  28. J. W. Brewer says:

    I recall writing a little bit of exegesis for a New Testament Greek class back in college where I was placing great emphasis on some sort of systematic alternation in one of the Johannine Epistles between, um, maybe imperfect and aorist that was blurred in English translation but seemed of theological moment to me at the time. If only I’d thought to draw on potential parallel examples from a corpus of sexually-explicit graffiti . . .

  29. “Try Spanish instead; in French, passé simple and passé composé have the exact same meaning, the difference is stylistic.”

    In the stylistic register in which the passé simple still exists, isn’t there a distinction in meaning between the passé simple and the passé composé?

  30. “If only I’d thought to draw on potential parallel examples from a corpus of sexually-explicit graffiti .”

    There’s not much context around the graffiti to serve as a basis for inferring the aspectual implication fo the imperfect, and besides there’s a half-millenium or more time gap.

    “I didn’t even know it exists.”

    I don’t know that I’ve ever personally encountered the passé surcomposé in the wild–I’ve just read about it. It may just be a unicorn tense, for all I know.

    ‘As is the English “present perfect.”’

    The ancient Greek perfect and the English present perfect don’t completely overlap. For example, in English you can say “he has died” for only a very short time after death before switching to the preterite. In Greek τέθνηκε means “he is dead,” “he is in a state of having died,” regardless of how much time has elapsed since death. If you want to focus on the actual event of death, you would use the aorist. And if you are focusing on the process of dying, you would use the imperfect. The pluperfect is actually somewhat rare in ancient Greek, since aorist and perfect participles typically do the work of the pluperfect–anteriority to another verb–more efficiently.

  31. David Marjanović says:

    In the stylistic register in which the passé simple still exists, isn’t there a distinction in meaning between the passé simple and the passé composé?

    Not to my knowledge (texts in passé simple tend to lack passé composé altogether), or to that of the site that explains the passé surcomposé. This lack of a distinction in meaning has been compared to the lack of distinction in meaning between the German past tenses and considered evidence for a Sprachbund.

    Étienne? Marie-Lucie?

  32. French Wikipédia has an discussion of the long history of the decline of the passé simple in the face of the passé composé:

    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pass%C3%A9_simple

    But I would reather hear it from either Étienne or Marie-Lucie (or perhaps they could confirm that the Wikipédia article has it right).

  33. David Marjanović says:

    Fascinating!

    Incidentally, the article doesn’t use the passé simple itself, except for il fut, which appears at most but not all occasions as far as I can tell. :-)

  34. Etienne says:

    You called?

    Okay, in answer to the questions:

    1-The distinction in written French between the passé simple and the passé composé is purely stylistic for most speakers. Standard Spoken French uses two past tenses only, the imparfait and the passé composé: crucially, neither tense allows speakers to indicate a punctual past event clearly separate from the present.

    THEORETICALLY in written French there is a semantic distinction between passé simple and passé composé (in principle the former refers to a past punctual event clearly separate from the present, whereas the latter refers to a past punctual event which is related, either in the speaker’s mind or in reality, to the present), but in practice native speakers simply replace various passé composé forms with passé simple forms to make their written language look fancier: the ability to do so while respecting the semantic difference between the two tenses is a skill only a small minority of French speakers possess (including those I taught French grammar to, assuming they were awake in class and haven’t forgotten everything I tried to teach them that is…)

    2-The passé surcomposé arose in order to express a past punctual event unrelated to the present. In the sixteenth century a French speaker could make a distinction between passé simple JE FIS (I did: over and done with), imparfait JE FAISAIS (I was doing) and passé composé J’AI FAIT (I did, and something of this action is bleeding into the present). With the loss of the passé simple non-pedantic/spoken registers of Stadard French are left with no simple grammatical way to express a punctual past unrelated to the present. That is where the passé surcomposé comes in: in non-standard French J’AI EU FAIT fills the semantic space once occupied by JE FIS.

    3-The loss of the passé simple and the rise of the passé surcomposé are found in many Romance varieties other than French, and indeed one scholar showed that a passé surcomposé-type form arose wherever the passé simple had been lost, and conversely no passé surcomposé exists where the passé simple remains a living form. It’s a nice case of what Sapir called “drift”: the tendency for related languages to change in parallel fashion. Thus the loss of the passé simple is not a specifically French innovation: it is found in a great many Romance varieties which have not been in close contact with one another.

    4-The reason why this loss took place is because of its morphology: the passé simple involves a separate stem of the verb, with a high degree of suppletion. In Latin this stem (the perfectum) was used for the perfect and for the pluperfect and future anterior. Thus present-tense FACIO “I do” corresponded to past tense FECI “I did”: but with the same stem you had the pluperfect FECERAM “I had done” and future anterior FECERO “I will have done”.

    In the transition from Latin to Romance, with the rise of the have-perfect (HABEO FACTUM, yielding French “j’ai fait”, Spanish “he hecho”..) and the use of inflected forms of have + past participle to express the pluperfect and future anterior (French “j’avais fait”, “j’aurai fait”) the perfect AKA passé simple became increasingly isolated within the verb system, morphologically, and thus was quite liable throughout Romance to be replaced by other past tense forms. Tellingly, Romance varieties which have preserved the perfect quite often drastically simplified it, morphologically, thereby vacating the requirement that a separate verb stem be known. This is the case in (older, rural) varieties of Acadian French, which quite regularly form their passé simple forms by suffixing singular /i/ and plural /ir/ to th present tense stem of the verb (with only a handful of irregular forms).

    5-I do believe that covers it!

  35. David Marjanović says:

    Thank you!

    The passé surcomposé arose in order to express a past punctual event unrelated to the present.

    OK, this is quite different from the German situation, where the past tenses are – and have been for the last few hundred years at least – pure tenses without any shade of aspect.

  36. Thanks, Etienne!

  37. Stefan Holm says:

    OK, this is quite different from the German situation, where the past tenses are – and have been for the last few hundred years at least – pure tenses without any shade of aspect.

    Are you sure, David? In English (and Swedish) there is an aspectual difference in:

    I was sick (but am not anymore) versus I have been sick (and still am). In Swedish it would be jag var sjuk and jag har varit sjuk.

    I know that German differs but what about Ich war krank compared to Ich bin krank gewesen (if that is a possible German expression)?

  38. I don’t see any difference in meaning between, “Ich war krank,” und, “Ich bin krank gewesen.” There certainly is a stylistic difference between the past forms, however. (Actually, as an L2 German speaker, I noticed that the stylistic difference between the past forms of sein is not actually quite the same as the difference for other verbs. I never quite mastered this subtlety of German style.)

  39. Indeed, English sentences like “Beethoven has only written one opera” (which implies in English that he is still alive and might write more) rather than “Beethoven only wrote one opera” are diagnostic of L2 English from German L1 speakers. For some reason, francophones are much less likely to make this mistake.

    Once the semantic distinction between the simple past and the present perfect (compound past) is lost, the latter tends to take over, pushing the first to a written-only register, at least in IE languages. This is because the simple past is morphologically isolated. Of course, when there is a continuing semantic difference (as in English) this doesn’t happen.

  40. Stefan Holm says:

    Aspect is generally not grammatically marked in Gmc languages. This was a new thing to learn when I in my youth studied Russian. The exception is English where the present participle, -ing, has developed into a marker of an imperfective (ongoing) thing. The Swedish phrase vi åt can thus mean we ate (and then we did something else) or we were eating (when suddenly the door bell rang).

    As in my, Chomskyan book, language is hardwired in our brains all languages are capable of expressing aspect, modes, tempus etc. but not necessarily by using grammatical markers. So in Swedish the phrase vi satt och åt, lit. ‘we sat and ate’ will do the thing of making it an imperfective (ongoing) act.

    This was a trouble in taking Russian. The verb ‘walk’, ‘go’ is either (imperfective) ходить, ‘khodich’ (be walking) or (perfective) идти, ‘idchi’ (walk all the way and reach the goal).

  41. David Marjanović says:

    Are you sure, David? In English (and Swedish) there is an aspectual difference in:

    Yes, and that makes English much harder for German L1 speakers to learn than you’d otherwise expect. We spent years on the English tenses, and even today I’m sometimes not quite sure which one to pick.

    Ich bin krank gewesen (if that is a possible German expression)

    It is, but it isn’t used much…:

    There certainly is a stylistic difference between the past forms, however.

    Yes. One factor is the stylistic sequence of tenses: if you’re writing in the simple past and need to talk about an earlier event, you use the pluperfect; if you’re writing in the present and need to talk about an earlier event, you use the compound past. That’s it.

    I suppose that this sanctioned use of the compound past for “looking at the past from the present” could have developed from an English-/Swedish-style aspectual difference. But then again, it’s so similar to the Latin consecutio temporum that I wonder if it’s borrowed wholesale.

    (The most traditional names for the German simple and compound pasts are Imperfekt and Perfekt, a truly desperate attempt to line up the German and the Latin tenses 1 : 1.)

    I have been sick (and still am)

    For this, the only option in German is the present: “I’ve been sick since yesterday” = ich bin seit gestern krank, “I’ve been sick for two days” = ich bin seit zwei Tagen krank. This is another major hurdle for German-L1 learners of English.

    Actually, as an L2 German speaker, I noticed that the stylistic difference between the past forms of sein is not actually quite the same as the difference for other verbs. I never quite mastered this subtlety of German style.

    The trick here is probably the fact that the simple past of sein survives in many dialects that have lost the simple past of all or almost all other verbs*, so it doesn’t strike speakers of such dialects – and people influenced by their speakers – as outright literary, while the compound past of that word strikes them as an unnecessary expansion.

    But then, Latin and French often use(d) the imperfect of their “be” words for no aspectual reason I can discern.

    * Mine for instance. The one other verb that has a simple past, except for the 2nd person plural where the possible options would be homophonous with the present or the subjunctive, is wollen “want”.

    This is because the simple past is morphologically isolated.

    The situation may not be that… simple. The simple past is only isolated for the irregular verbs, and even in those it’s not isolated from the “past subjunctive” (Konjunktiv II). On the other hand, a round of apocope made the simple past identical to the present in Upper German for most person/number combinations of regular verbs; that’s the closest thing to a textbook explanation for why the simple past went extinct or nearly so in the Upper German dialects. On the third hand, I’ll try to find the paper that says German has SVOV word order in simple declarative sentences – a slot in second position for a finite verb form, and a slot in final position for an infinite one – and argues that the compound past fits into these two slots while the simple past has to leave one empty.

    On the fourth hand, the death of the simple past in upper German has set the simple “past subjunctive” free by removing the potential for confusion in regular verbs. It is more common there than the compound version (with “would”*), while in the standard it’s dying out for most verbs.

    * In English, I were and I would be mean different things and are used in different contexts. In Standard German, a prescriptivist distinction in usage was upheld into the latter half of the 20th century: “if”-clauses were supposed to exclusively use the simple form. One of my teachers was still taught that**; I wasn’t.

    ** With the help of a great pun: Wenn-Sätze sind würdelos, “if-clauses lack ‘would’/dignity”.

    Aspect is generally not grammatically marked in Gmc languages.

    The distinction between past and present-perfect is very much aspectual. It doesn’t date back to Proto-Germanic, though – not even to Proto-Northwest Germanic, and maybe not even to Proto-West Gmc either.

  42. consecutio temporum

    I’ve always assumed this was a shared primitive character. At least, it was zero effort to learn it in Latin, as it followed English so closely. But perhaps it is a matter of representing the same ideas with different mechanisms.

    simple and compound pasts are Imperfekt and Perfekt

    Ironically, the Germanic preterite (of strong verbs, anyway) is descended from the IE perfect.

    the only option in German is the present

    Which is why germanophones say things like “I am in America two years.”

    a round of apocope made the simple past identical to the present in Upper German for most person/number combinations of regular verbs

    Ah, that’s reasonable. But it has spread to even Northern versions of Standard German, where there is no such phonological collapse, any more than in English — well, bar a few words like drown, which in some varieties has become drownd and has spawned a new preterite drownded.

  43. David Marjanović says:

    Which is why germanophones say things like “I am in America two years.”

    Bingo.

    it has spread to even Northern versions of Standard German

    The loss of a distinction in meaning between the past tenses has spread. The loss of the simple past has not – I should have mentioned this: in northern Germany, the simple past is still used in everyday conversation, apparently because it’s shorter than the compound past.

  44. David Marjanović says:

    That’s for a value of “northern” that includes Berlin, which doesn’t see itself as “northern”.

  45. @Stefan Holm. I am not sure you characterized difference between ходить and идти correctly. Usually they are distinguished as multi- and uni-directional. But идти does not mean to reach the goal. It’s true that ходить cannot be grammatically perfect, but идти does not convey any sense of completion or even purposefulness. Just check идти куда ноги несут.

  46. D.O. is correct; verbs of motion in Russian are a notorious stumbling block.

  47. Looking at the drift of this post, I’m appalled. This blog must be the only place on earth where prurient sex is swept aside by verbal aspect as a topic of conversation. That says something about the participants, and I’m not sure it’s something healthy.

  48. David Marjanović says:

    Oh, elsewhere I’ve participated in discussions that first drifted to prurient sex and then away again!

  49. Bill W: I once read a scholarly article on tense and aspect in late Sanskrit which, in discussing various morphemes marking durativity, pointed out that while a concatenation of these morphemes might in theory be used to highlight a continuous, long-lasting action, in practice this concatenation is apparently, in this late Sanskrit corpus at any rate, only attested in describing sexual activity. So while this blog may indeed be the only place where discussion of prurient sex is swept aside by discussion of tense and aspect, a discussion of tense and aspect which leads to prurient sex does exist out there.

    But I think I now understand why typological + historical linguistics is declining: if we who enjoy comparing languages find comparing languages, including their tense and aspect marking, more interesting than sex, then it is no surprise that we are failing to reproduce. So: For the sake of the future of our field, what can be done to remedy this unhealthy (I agree with Bill W. there) state of affairs?

    On a completely different topic: I trust everyone here is familiar with that fine classic of American cinema, DOCTOR STRANGELOVE? Sprang to my mind for some reason, it did…

  50. David Marjanović says:

    Oh yes. Even I have still seen it.

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