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[langdev] Tenses, moods, aspects! [LONG]

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 15, 2000, 4:29

Watakassí has three tenses (past, present, future), so far so dull, and
seven aspects: punctual (unmarked), non-punctual, habitual, prospective,
inceptive, cessative, perfect.

Punctual indicates that an action was/will be abrupt, sudden, it's
viewed as a single action.  For example, "he fell" (Na-fagwatyátas).
The falling is abrupt, altho it took time to fall, it's viewed as if it
were instantaneous.  Present punctual indicates that an action has
*just* happened, as in Na-gwatyátas, "he's just fallen!"

Non-punctual, in contrast, indicates that the action occurred over a
time-span, often equivalent to progressive (na-gwatyátassi, "he's
falling"), but not always, it would be used in a case like, "He ruled
for thirty years", since the ruling is over a period of time.

Habitual indicates that the action occurs/occurred/will occur
repeatedly.  Na-gwatyátasva, "He falls, He frequently falls", note that
this works in the future, "Na-naigwatyátasva", "He will (habitually)
fall", perhaps referring to someone with a degenerative muscular
disease?  "As the disease progresses (non-punctual), he will fall
frequently" or something like that.

Prospective indicates that the action "is going to occur", it's
generally equivalent to English "be going to", for instance,
na-fagwatyátasma, "he was going to fall", na-naigwatyátastu "He will be
going to fall".  It's rare with the present tense, and I'm not entirely
clear on what the difference between na-naigwatyátas "He will fall" and
na-gwatyátasma, "he is going to fall" is.  I think that the present
prospective would have an implication that the future action is directly
due to present circumstances, like "that ladder doesn't look very
stable, I think *he's going to fall*", but I'm still working it out.

Inceptive indicates the beginning of an action, na-gwatyátastu, "he
began to fall"

Cessative is the opposite of inceptive, it indicates the end of an
action, na-gwatyátasla, "he stopped falling"

Perfect indicates completion, na-fagwatyátasnu, "he had fallen".  As
with prospective, I'm not completely clear on the distinction between
past punctual and present perfect.  I think that the present perfect
would tend to indicate that the direct consequences of the action are
still felt, i.e., "*he's fallen* (and he's still lying on the ground)",
or something like that.

"Their bodies did not age, but they became afeared of everything and
anything.  For partaking in any activity at all could threaten their
precious and ageless bodies! ... Their victory over death was a hollow
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