παρακείμενος ή αόριστος;

martinlest

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I've been an EFL teacher for many years, including several with the British Council, working around the world. I lived in Greece for over 12 years, teaching at φροντιστήρια κτλ, and my Greek is pretty good (IMHO - I teach modern Greek in the UK now, up to intermediate level), though not of course perfect (if you'll forgive the pun, in the context!). Hard for a foreigner I think to get such a complicated language 100% perfect (pretty hard for many Greek people too, of course!)..

One thing that I have never quite mastered however is when Greek speakers would choose the παρακείμενος tense (Present Perfect) over the αόριστος (Simple Past). I lived mostly in Crete (and in Athens people could usually tell that (disapprovingly more often than not!) from the things I said, or the way I said them) : it seemed to me that there at least, αόριστος was 'king'. I did not notice the Present Perfect used nearly so much. Usually 'είδα', rarely 'έχω δει'...

So I would like to ask (and Googling has not really helped that much, so far), when does a Greek speaker naturally employ the παρακείμενος tense over the αόριστος? In English of course it is a matter of unfinished or finished time period that determines this, but that doesn't seem to be so in Greek.

Thank you. A few examples would be great too! :-)

Martin
« Last Edit: 14 Dec, 2021, 14:39:39 by martinlest »


spiros

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Do these help?
Μπλαμπλά: Η χρήση του παρακειμένου
Αόριστος και παρακείμενος. | WordReference Forums

Attached an excerpt from: Greek: A Comprehensive Grammar of the Modern Language (David Holton, Peter Mackridge and Irene Philippaki).

There maybe be some regional preference of one over the other in case where both could be used and roughly convey the same meaning. Something similar happens in Italian with high and low register preferences over passato prossimo (standard) vs passato remoto (high register, hardly ever used by a great number of speakers).
« Last Edit: 14 Dec, 2021, 10:59:24 by spiros »



martinlest

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Thanks.. looking through those.

Seems though that the explanations there present a similar idea to the use of the two tenses as in English (i.e. time dependent - finished or ongoing action).

But in a case like this one (in British English at least; American is somewhat different): "Have you finished?", the Present Perfect tense is used for an action not ongoing but recently completed. "I've had an accident" would be another example of that, (the listener understanding that the results of the past (and finished!) accident are visible now, at the present time. If one had said "I had an accident", 'αόριστος', the listener's probably confused reaction would be to wonder when. Years ago?). In Greek though, I would be surprised to hear 'έχεις τελειώσει?', expecting instead 'τελείωσες?' (though to my ear both are acceptable. Is there a difference, subtle or otherwise, in meaning though?). In British English at least, the Simple Past, "Did you finish?", is wrong there of course.

Or, where no time period is implied, such as "I haven't seen him", the Greek would surely more likely to be 'Δεν τον είδα' and not 'Δεν τον έχω δει'. Or is that not so? Maybe the αόριστος tense is just more colloquial?

Problem is, I find myself wanting to use the παρακείμενος in Greek exactly where I would use the Present Perfect in British English, and the αόριστος where I would use the Simple Past. But that can't be right... (In the end, I rarely use the παρακείμενος tense at all in conversation, preferring most times the αόριστος, which I think (?) is what I used to hear when I lived in Crete).

I'll continue looking through the links you posted meanwhile. Thanks again.
« Last Edit: 14 Dec, 2021, 14:41:26 by martinlest »


spiros

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In the examples you mention, both options are perfectly acceptable and interchangeable in everyday speech. Αόριστος, as in τέλειωσες/τελείωσες, is more concise and abrupt, less "polite" if you will, so there are subtle stylistic differences; compare "finished?" with "have/are you finished?".
« Last Edit: 14 Dec, 2021, 11:07:17 by spiros »



martinlest

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OK, as I say, 'Αόριστος' is often just a bit more colloquial then (more informal, anyway), as in the English you quoted. Still, I would say, and expect to hear, 'ήρθε' rather than 'έχει έρθει'' when someone expected has just arrived. Maybe just me: whenever I use the Present Perfect in Greek, I can't help wondering if some native Greek speakers find it a bit 'foreign' (even affected?) usage, but maybe not..

Thank you.
« Last Edit: 14 Dec, 2021, 14:37:08 by martinlest »


spiros

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Both ήρθε and έχει έρθει can be used interchangeably in a number of cases (i.e. if it is a question). If you provide more context, maybe I would be able to make a suggestion.

It is extremely difficult to sound native in a non-native language due to a myriad of minor and possibly undocumented nuances.
« Last Edit: 15 Dec, 2021, 19:06:54 by spiros »


martinlest

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Quote
It is extremely difficult to sound native in a non-native language due to a myriad of minor and possibly undocumented nuances.

Yeah, I already noticed that! :-)

I don't have any specific context for my examples: what I now say in Greek is, unsurprisingly, influenced by what I heard whilst living in Greece (and also of course why some Greek people picked up on the fact that I lived in Crete, though I wasn't always aware of how they knew).

I think my question has been answered anyway. Thanks again Spiro.
« Last Edit: 15 Dec, 2021, 19:13:29 by martinlest »


 

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