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THEORY: Tenses for Time Travelers; Plus, Moods and Modalities for Alternate Realities

From:Tom Chappell <tomhchappell@...>
Date:Wednesday, August 17, 2005, 23:43
Hello, list.  Thanks for reading, writing, and participating.

I decided this bit deserved its own thread --  I hope that's OK.

I posted a big thread-starter some time ago about all the various
genders that might be needed by a multi-species pan-galactic
interstellar society including artificial intelligences and sophont
member species having alternative reproductive strategies.

The same impulse prompts me to ask about
a tense system for time-travellers.

A society of time-travelers who meet at a particular time may need to specify
"past" or "future" in three different time-scales:
Speaker's past vs Speaker's future;
Addressee's past vs Addressee's future;
Subject's past vs Subject's future ("Subject" = subject of sentence.).

That leads to 11 tenses, since the Speaker's Present and
the Addressee's Present will be the same moment, and we can assume
that the Subject's Present takes place in the Speaker's and
Addressee's Present.

(The Subect's Past or Future could overlap the
Speaker's and Addressee's Present, however.).
I'm serious about that.

Is anyone aware of a conlang that addresses such an issue?

Truth be told, such a thing would come in handy in natlangs, too,
in narratives involving prophecy.
Throw in Alternate Time Lines, and it could get more complicated;
since a given present moment could have more than one past as well as
more than one future, and a given past moment could lead to more than
one present moment.

That was kind of why I suggested Time as a Complex Number in that
the "Chinese Time" thread.
"Sideways Time" was "Irrealis", I suggested; and a tense
could be some "linear combination" of Realis (past = negative (? or
positive ?), present = zero, future = positive (or the opposite of
past, at any rate) with Irrealis (a 0 "imaginary part"
meaning "nothing but realis" just as a 0 "real part" would
mean "nothing but present").
Of course I couldn't figure out what
the difference would be between positive and negative Irrealis time.

Well, "Time as a Complex Number" was, I admit, kind of a joke for
this group/list;  but, seriously, handling multiple time streams (or
alternate time lines) seems like the natural next step after Tenses
for Time Travelers.

Has anyone given it any thought, or done any work on it; or, is
anyone aware of anyone else who has?


Thank you.


Tom H.C. in MI

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# 1 <salut_vous_autre@...>
Remi Villatel <maxilys@...>Tenses for Time Travelers...
Steg Belsky <draqonfayir@...>