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Re: unmarked tense/aspect

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Saturday, March 6, 2004, 4:14
Estel Telcontar wrote
> Are there any tense/aspect combinations that are more likely to be > unmarked than others? I imagine it's unlikely that the future perfect > would be the unmarked form :) > > Also, does anyone know about tendencies to lump certain tense/aspect > combinations together? I understand Classical Greek distinguished > perfective and imperfective in the past but not in the present.
For one thing, present tense tends to imply imperfective aspect; perfective aspect can be past or future, but it's less obvious what "present perfective" might mean. It's not impossible to think of uses for the present perfective, but they're not as frequent as cases where you'd want to use present imperfective. And perfective aspect seems more likely to refer to past tense rather than future. I can't imagine any language where the future is the unmarked form. So either the present or the past tense could be unmarked. I could see it going either way; isn't there some language (Arabic?) that uses past tense forms as the dictionary form? So you could have present imperfective, past imperfective, or past perfective as the unmarked form.