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Terminology: time and tense
Posted: 20 June 2012 07:15 PM   [ Ignore ]
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The pluperfect progressive: is it an aspect or a tense? Or something else? What do we call those things…

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Posted: 20 June 2012 08:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Wikipedia says a combination of aspect and tense.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 08:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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If the present progressive is merely a tense, and the past progressive is merely a tense, and the present perfect progressive is merely a tense, it makes little sense to declare the past perfect progressive a tense plus an aspect dealie thingamabob.

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Posted: 22 June 2012 02:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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FeS, the boffins tell me the present progressive is NOT a tense, and that English only actually has two tenses.

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Posted: 22 June 2012 02:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Yes, by strict definition English only has two inflected tenses, present and past. It forms the others periphrastically, with verbs like will and have.

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Posted: 22 June 2012 03:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Dave Wilton - 22 June 2012 02:51 AM

Yes, by strict definition English only has two inflected tenses, present and past. It forms the others periphrastically, with verbs like will and have.

How do strong verbs such as sing, sang, sung fit this paradigm?

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Posted: 22 June 2012 04:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The same way. They inflect for present and past. The third one is the participial form, which is not a tense.

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Posted: 22 June 2012 05:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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OP Tipping - 20 June 2012 07:15 PM

The pluperfect progressive: is it an aspect or a tense?

I think it’s a political party in Greece.

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Posted: 22 June 2012 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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OP Tipping - 22 June 2012 02:07 AM

FeS, the boffins tell me the present progressive is NOT a tense, and that English only actually has two tenses.

This strikes me as one of those “form over function” debates, which I am not entirely qualified for. Still, English can bring about lots of functional tenses periphrastically. Is there a difference between using 2-3-4 words to form a verb tense and using verb inflections which are compiled in one “word”? Not in my opinion.

I’ve long been curious how the progressive form started in English when it does not exist in other Germanic languages. Maybe it was some kind of imitation of French or something. I suspect that as Anglo-Saxon verb forms were falling away post 1066, the proletariat started identifying with the oppressor/abuser language (French) in classic Stockholm Syndrome mode. Hmmm. Not sure I meant to say that.

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Posted: 22 June 2012 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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"Still, English can bring about lots of functional tenses periphrastically.”

Is there a technical name for such “functional tenses”?

ie one language might express “continuing action in the future” with a declension: another with a series of auxiliary verbs, but it will still mean the same thing. What do we call these semantic categories?

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Posted: 23 June 2012 04:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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OP Tipping - 22 June 2012 05:26 PM

“Still, English can bring about lots of functional tenses periphrastically.”

Is there a technical name for such “functional tenses”?

ie one language might express “continuing action in the future” with a declension: another with a series of auxiliary verbs, but it will still mean the same thing. What do we call these semantic categories?

Good question.  I’ve asked the same question about case and never gotten anything even vaguely resembling an answer.

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Posted: 23 June 2012 04:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Maybe I should read up on denotata.

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Posted: 23 June 2012 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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"Functional tenses” are aspects and moods.

Huddleston and Pullam, in The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, describe two systems of tense, one system of aspect, and one system of mood in English.

The primary system of tenses are present and preterite (past), both inflected. The secondary tense system is the perfect: the non-perfect is unmarked, and the perfect is formed with have + past participle (e.g., has gone).

The aspect system is the progressive. Non-progressive verbs are unmarked. Progressive ones are formed with have + gerund-participle (e.g., is going).

Moods are usually marked with modal auxiliaries (will, shall, can, may, must) + infinitive (e.g., can go). But the construction of moods in English is complex, and can’t be quickly summarized.

Some grammars will describe a future tense, formed with will/shall, but Huddleston and Pullam argue that there are numerous ways to express future time in English and the will/shall forms are analogous in every respect to the other moods, so this construction of futurity is more accurately described as a mood.

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Posted: 23 June 2012 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I’m sure there are going to be responses saying “That’s dumb, of course English has a future tense!” It never ceases to amaze me that people who would unquestioningly take the word of an astronomer about stars or that of a zoologist about animals think their uninformed opinions trump the conclusions of people who spend their professional lives studying language and write respected books about it.

(Edit: Not that Huddleston and Pullum are necessarily right about the lack of a future—they might even change their minds about it—but disagreeing with them in any serious way would require mastering the huge amount of data they used and their arguments for their conclusions, not just repeating something “learned” in school.)

[ Edited: 23 June 2012 07:12 AM by languagehat ]
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Posted: 23 June 2012 08:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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.

I’m sure there are going to be responses saying “That’s dumb, of course English has a future tense!”

I’ll bet you five dollars there won’t be.

Dave: these comments are useful, but they indicate that I haven’t explained myself well. Your comments are about the analysis of grammatical _forms_ in English.
Iron Pyrite has called “functional tenses”. What I (and, I believe, he) are referring to are the “actual semantic time-related situations” (which is how I will refer to them in this post, awkward though it is, because I do not have a proper name for them), not the tenses/moods/aspects with which they may be described in this or that language. Each language will have a different set of forms used to convey information about the timing of events, but there are, I would think, a fairly small set of ideas about time that need to be expressed.

For example: English has no future tense, French has a future tense. In English we would say “I will fall”: in French, “je tomberai”. These have different forms, and a linguist would analyse these differently, describing French as having a future tense and English as indicating the future by using a modal verb.

But they _mean_ the same thing. They fall into the same “actual semantic time-related situation” category.
Is there a name for these situations? (I originally called them “cases” but I know “case” means something different in linguistics.)

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Posted: 24 June 2012 02:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I don’t know of a general term for constructions that express time. There are so many different ones. In English, for example, you can also do it adverbially ("we go tomorrow") or with a prepositional phrase ("we go in an hour). There are probably other ways to do it too. A name for such a class wouldn’t be all that useful as it wouldn’t tell you much, the structures are too varied and the only link is the semantic category of time.

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