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

From:tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>
Date:Friday, August 19, 2005, 18:29
--- In, Carsten Becker <naranoieati@B...>
> [snip] > > Just like some others, when I saw this thread again this > morning when I read my mails, I thought of the "inner clock" > as well. IMO, either (1) you only have absolute time or, the > other way round, (2) you mark verbs for your subjective > time. > Or you make (3) your time marking depend on the time in > which you're at the moment: > > (I, a time traveller with his "home time" in 2005, travels > to the past and to the future:) > > 1) I say in the past: I am born on August 26, 1986 AD > I say in the future: I am born on August 26, 1986 AD > > 2) past: I was born on August 26, 1986 AD > future: I was born on August 26, 1986 AD > > 3) past: I will be born on August 26, 1986 AD > future: I was born on August 26, 1986 AD > > That way no additional tenses are necessary.
Good reasoning. Good system. Still, they say, "the differences between languages aren't about what you /can/ say, they're about what you /have/ to say." Why not a conlang where you /have/ to be clear about when, exactly, each mentioned-event is supposed to have occured? It needn't even involve time-travel, nor FTL travel; just being able to routinely travel an appreciable fraction of the speed-of-light-in- a-vacuum (e.g. 90% c, though ISTR 50% c would be fast enough) could cause you to need to be careful in order to be precise. Some languages require you to say, whenever you mention an/some object/s, whether you are talking about just one or more than one; others don't. Some languages require you to say, whenever you mention an event, whether it's happening now, has already happened, or is going to happen; others don't. Some languages require you to say, whenever you say something, how you know it; others don't. For example, American languages are famous for not requiring tenses but for requiring evidentials. Many American languages do not require number. Sino-Tibetan languages are famous for requiring neither number nor tense. It is a common feature of natural language that nearly every natlang requires something that isn't necessary. You could say this is a "Universal".
> I hope that also answers the mail you wrote me off-listly, Tom?
If it was /my/ off-list mail, rather than Jim's, to which you refer, then, Yes, this does answer it; and quite satisfactorily, too. As you can see, I've answered the answers.
> Sorry for my harsh words, they weren't meant to be so.
Oh, I didn't find them harsh, but thanks for the apology; apologies usually aren't necessary, but I appreciate the attitude that "it's better to give one that's not needed than not to give one that is needed." I didn't write off-list to avoid putting an emotional topic on-list; I just didn't want to crowd out the 100-post limit (or my personal 5- post limit) with something that might be of interest to only a minority of the other people who participated in this thread.
> I read that mail of yours and I understood your points.
I appreciate your taking the time to do so. I can tell you understood my points. I think I understood the points you made in your post, too; and I think they are correct.
> BTW, you might want to search the archives for "vector > tense". I haven't checked out what this thread is about, but > it caught my eye when I extracted the logfiles from 1998 and > 1999 yesterday (you can get them if you send GET CONLANG > LOGyymmw [e.g. LOG0508B = August 2005, week 2] to > listserv@l...)
That sounds /very/ /interesting/. I will do that. Thanks. Tom H.C. in MI