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TSE  March 2010

TSE March 2010

Subject:

Re: "Us he devours" was ....Re: 'Gerontion' -- Grammatical Accuracy

From:

Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 11 Mar 2010 12:14:57 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (141 lines)

And Jerry & I have only made a beginning on the various ways in various
contexts a given tense can carry quite varied time references. "I go to
town to morrow." Present tense use dto indicate future action. Engless
possibilities. Morphology is morphology and meaning is meaning, and the
two overlap but do not coincicde.

Carrol

Diana Manister wrote:
> 
> Dear Jerry,
> 
> Thanks for clarifying that. I was under the impression that
> progressive present would actually indicate an action that, well,
> progresses. The simple present then continues in either a durative or
> iterative way? "I drink water right now" sounds like broken-English.
> Is it correct usage? It sounds like "I go to the store now." On the
> other hand "I go to school" is durative. Whew!
> 
> "I drink water every morning" or "I generally drink water instead of
> wine" as well as the other durative examples you provide are all
> either continuing or iterative actions, right? Even "I do drink" seems
> durative or iterative, as in "Yes, I do drink" or "I do drink a glass
> once in a while."
> 
> A punctum in the present then is always progressive, while durative or
> iterative actions are present tense. Seems backwards to me.
> 
> Anyway, many thanks!
> 
> Diana
> 
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2010 08:21:49 -0800
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: "Us he devours" was ....Re: 'Gerontion' -- Grammatical
> Accuracy
> To: [log in to unmask]
> 
> Yes, Diana.  "I am drinking" is progressive present tense.  "I drink"
> is simple present.  "I do drink" is emphatic present.  Each of them
> can be used in contexts that modify the temporal parameters of the
> action.  "I drink coffee from morning to night" (continuous, durative
> action).  "I drink a cup of coffee every morning when I get up"
> (puntual, repeated action).  But for punctual, non-repeated action in
> the present, the progressive present ("I am drinking a cup of coffee
> right now").  For simultaneous action, the progressive past ("I was
> drinking a cup of coffee when you called") can be replaced
> (Runyon-style) by the progressive present ("Guess who arrives while I
> am drinking a cup of coffee!").  I have no doubt there are other, even
> more nuanced uses of the various tenses beyond those I've exemplified.
> 
> Jerry Walsh
> 
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> From: Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Thu, March 11, 2010 9:46:10 AM
> Subject: Re: "Us he devours" was ....Re: 'Gerontion' -- Grammatical
> Accuracy
> 
> Peter I'll allow that I'm confused about simple present tense. In the
> sentence "I am drinking a glass of water right now" is it progressive
> present because of the participle "drinking"? Even though the action
> does not continue?
> 
> Diana
> 
> Sent from my iPod
> 
> On Mar 11, 2010, at 7:23 AM, Peter Montgomery
> < [[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> > In a sense the inversion isolates US. He doesn't devour anything
> else, just
> > US.
> >
> > P.
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Carrol Cox" < [Image][log in to unmask]>
> > To: < [Image][log in to unmask]>
> > Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 8:23 AM
> > Subject: "Us he devours" was ....Re: 'Gerontion' -- Grammatical
> Accuracy
> >
> >
> >> (Ignoring all Diana's comments on this.)
> >>
> >> The present tense in English (as in most languages) has a number of
> >> different uses, and identifying the use in a particular case offers
> or
> >> can offer interpretive problems, especially when, as here, there is
> a
> >> deliberate departure from normal English word order of
> >> subject-verbv-object. Obmect-subject-verb wold be perfectly normal
> and
> >> non-ambiguous in Latin, That English has an objective (accusative)
> case
> >> in pronouns (though not in nouns) makes the Latin word order
> possible
> >> here, and the use of non-English word order is surely the most
> strikig
> >> feature of the phrase. US he devours -- ie., not "them." But since
> the
> >> antecedent of "he" is itself an interpretive crux it's hard to know
> >> where to_begin_ om cconstruing the phrase, that is, which is the
> >> dependent, which the independent variable here. Le's leave the
> puzzle
> >> regarding "he" aside for a moment and focus on the word order and
> the
> >> verb. "Devours" here has an iterative feel: He is in the practice
> of
> >> devouring, not just anyoen, but _us_ (emphasized by word order).
> The
> >> iterative feel and the emphasis on us (rather than someone else)
> >> suggests something like an regularly repaeated action, annual in
> this
> >> case.
> >>
> >> I don't know where to take it from here, except to note that here
> we
> >> have the kind of ambguity Empson was concerned with -- ambiguities
> that
> >> _function_ significanty in the text, not ambiguties 5that are
> pulled out
> >> of the air for the fun of it by someone who just thinks ambiguity
> >> regardless of purpose is groovy. Weighing the various alternatives
> is
> >> clearly part of theaction that counts in this poem: not the action
> mimed
> >> by the poem (there is none) but the action of reading. Like so many
> >> romantic and modernist poems, the poem is about the act of reading
> (we
> >> are back to cunning passages).
> >>
> >> *Carrol
> >
> 
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Hotmail: Trusted email with Microsoft’s powerful SPAM protection. Sign
> up now.

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