The gnomic (abbreviated GNO), also called neutral, generic, or universal aspect, mood, or tense is a grammatical feature (which may refer to aspect, mood, and/or tense) that expresses general truths or aphorisms. Used to describe an aspect, the gnomic is considered neutral by not limiting the flow of time to any particular conception (for example, the conceptions of time as continuous, habitual, perfective, etc.). Used to describe a mood, the gnomic is considered neutral by not limiting the expression of words to the speaker's attitude toward them (e.g. as indicative, subjunctive, potential, etc.). Used to describe a tense, the gnomic is considered neutral by not limiting action, in particular, to the past, present, or future. Examples of the gnomic include such generic statements as: birds fly; sugar is sweet; a mother can always tell. If, as an aspect, it does take temporality into consideration, it may be called the empiric perfect aspect. Generally, though, it is one example of imperfective aspect, which does not view an event as a single entity viewed only as a whole, but instead specifies something about its internal temporal structure.
A grammatical gnomic aspect occurs in literary Swahili, where the -a- form of the verb is gnomic (sometimes called 'indefinite tense') and the -na- form of the verb is episodic (sometimes called 'definite tense' or just 'present'). Spanish does not have a gnomic inflection in its verbs like Swahili, but it does have lexical aspect in its be verbs ser (gnomic) and estar (episodic). For instance, estar enfermo means to be sick (episodic), whereas ser enfermo means to be sickly (gnomic).
However, most languages use other forms of the verb to express general truths. For instance, English uses the simple (unmarked) present tense, as in the examples given above. In French, Classical Greek, Tongan, and Dakota, the future tense is used. Biblical Hebrew uses the perfective aspect. In Japanese, an imperfective clause with the wa (topic) particle is used for generic statements such as taiyo-wa higasi-kara nobo-ru "the sun rises in the east", whereas the ga (subject) particle would force an episodic reading.
Other articles related to "gnomic aspect, gnomic":
... future, present imperfective, or aorist, which are called in these cases the gnomic present, the gnomic future, and the gnomic aorist ... There is also a gnomic perfect ... A gnomic future, the rarest of the three usages, similarly states that certain events often occur, and does not imply that an event is going to occur ...
Famous quotes containing the words aspect and/or gnomic:
“Nothing is as difficult as to achieve results in this world if one is filled full of great tolerance and the milk of human kindness. The person who achieves must generally be a one-ideaed individual, concentrated entirely on that one idea, and ruthless in his aspect toward other men and other ideas.”
—Corinne Roosevelt Robinson (18611933)
“Narrowed-down by her early editors and anthologists, reduced to quaintness or spinsterish oddity by many of her commentators, sentimentalized, fallen-in-love with like some gnomic Garbo, still unread in the breadth and depth of her full range of work, she was, and is, a wonder to me when I try to imagine myself into that mind.”
—Adrienne Rich (b. 1929)