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Re: Temporal Semantics [revised]

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Friday, March 5, 1999, 9:01
Hey, Rhialto, I'd like you to look at my Teonaht verbs page.  The Teonim like to

keep their verbs in the absolute form, which is why they have taken off all
tense and
aspect suffixes and prefixed them to the pronoun.  So you are describing many of

the features of Teonaht:

Three simple tenses:  present past and future, and the present has no marking.
Three aspects:  consuetudinal, completed, and inchoative.

No conjugated forms (except in a few circumstances) are to be found in the

Elry thindel:
Past-I eat   "I ate."

Esly htindel uar
FUT-she sing complet. "She will have sung."

There is a lot of complicated junk having to do with the combination of aspect
tense, but for the most part the verb, like the cheese, "stands alone."

But you have a very different syntax from Teonaht: you are putting your temporal
signals before the subject, and that's very interesting.  Teonaht is not that


Rhialto wrote:

> comments on this project broadly welcomed. > > Temporaral Semantics > initial draft 16/2/99 > revised 19/2/99 > > The purpose of this artificial grammar is to divorce the verb from all trace > of tense/aspect inflection. Phrase order in this artificial grammar will be: > > [Time] [Subject] [Verb] [Object] > > The default tense will be present tense, indicated by having no time phrase > in the sentence. In the present tense, there is no difference between > perfect and imperfect aspects, as these are semantically meaningless in the > present -- "I am eating" and "I eat",
Teonaht doesn't have that distinction either in the present, nor in the past. I eat means I am eating. I ate means I was eating. It does make a strong distinction between single acts and habitual acts. I eat at the diner every Tuesday takes a different form.
> while they mean different things, the > contrast is non-habitual/habitual rather than imperfect/perfect (both forms > are indicative).
Exactly as in Teonath. Uncanny.
> The present tense is inherently imperfect aspect, as > demonstrated by Russian. >
Hmm. Will have to pass on this one.
> nb: I regard "I have eaten" as being past perfect. "I had eaten" is > therefore past pluperfect. >
> The time clause consists of three parts. All parts are optional, but the > past/future marker must be present if any other parts are present. > > [past/future] [perfect and/or imperfect marker(s)] > > A maximum of two consucutive (as shown above) perfect/imperfect markers may > appear in a single clause. So, possible permutations are (P=perfect, > I=imperfect): P, I, PI, IP, PP, II. The doubled markers can, in addition, > take a single marker of the opposite type immediately before or after, for a > total of three time markers plus past/future marker. >
It does get complicated. I've been working on T's system for years!
> --- > > past/future marker -- This is a simple flag with 2 possible values. The > default meaning without the next two flags is for the perfect aspect. > Examples: > > past I eat = I have eaten, I ate > fut I eat = i will eat > > nb: "I will have eaten" is a construction that only genuinely occurs in > compound sentences in english. It will be replaced by a conjunction that can > be glossed as meaning 'by then/at that time'. This conjunction requires a > supporting time marker. > > when john arrive, by-then past i eat > When John arrives, I will have eaten >
I like this "by then."What do you do with "If John eats, then I will eat too?" (a hypothetical situation)Long post; can't do justice to it at this hour. Sounds like you're on your way, here. T. "completive" merely represents action that still has some impact in the present, just like the English perfect. Couldn't get away from it; tried, decided that no matter how long a time period specific actions covered, they were still in the simple past for Teonaht, and the completive would have to be the plain old familiar perfect.
> *when john arrive, by-then i eat > *When John arrives, I eat > > when john arrive, by-then fut i eat > When John arrives, I will eat > > when john arrive, by-then fut for-while i eat > When John arrives, I will be eating > > --- > > perfect time marker -- This is equivalent to the following phrases in > English. Note that while English marks some perfect time markers differently > depending on the tense, no such distinction is necessary in this grammar. > Also note that some time markers are named rather than numbered moments, > such as Wednesday or November. These are essentially 'proper times', just as > some nouns are 'proper nouns'. Also, some times are deictic, and change > their value depending on context. examples include 'yesterday'. > > Note that these perfect/imperfect time markers, while they have a > relationship with verbal perfect/imperfect aspects, are a separate concept. > A sentence with a perfect time marker indicates that an event happened at a > single conceptual point in time. Note that a concetual point in time can be > quite long - 'the fifteenth century' is one example of a perfect time > marker. > > Also note that there can be two perfect markers, in which case the nuance > changes from 'at' to 'between X and Y'. See the final section. > > In 5 hours time / 5 hours ago > over Christmas time > wednesday > (Note how ambiguity is avoided by the tense marker, so no need to specify > next or last xxx-day to avoid ambiguity) > on his birthday > yesterday tomorrow > (this would literally be 'one day away', tense being already defined) > at the end / in the beginning > (this is a superlative, and so cannot take an imperfect marker) > next (aka after that) > before that > (these two presuppose a previous sentence for context) > the fifteenth century > > --- > > imperfect time marker -- This is equivalent to the following kinds of > phrases in English, all of which are always preceded by 'for', and never > include 'proper times'. > > for 5 hours > for a few days > for a while (generic imperfect aspect marker) > > --- > > perfect - imperfect combinations > > perfect - imperfect > I will/did verb starting-on-perfect-moment for-imperfect-time > > This is the most common combination that is found in normal English. Note > that if the imperfect time is of a shorter duration than the perfect moment > ('on tuesday for five hours'), it can generally be assumed that the entire > duration was completed within that perfect moment. Likewise, if the > imperfect duration is on teh same or a higher order of magnitude compared to > the perfect moment, the duration is assumed to start at the end, or at > least, extend beyond, the perfect moment. > > imperfect - perfect > I will/did verb for-imperfect-time finishing-at-perfect-moment > > This form is remarkable only in that the imperfect time is usually on the > same order of magnitude (days, hours, etc) as the perfect moment. > > --- > > Paired perfect markers > perfect - perfect - [imperfect] > [imperfect] - perfect - perfect > > This marker only appears in pairs. It is indefinite in that the exact moment > specified is not as clearly defined as in the original time markers. The > moment of the event is an unknown point between two definite perfect times, > rather than being a known perfect time in its own right. > > between-now and-wednesday > > This is equivalent to 'by wednesday'. Unlike English, the first half of this > clause cannot be omitted, as that would change the meaning to 'at > wednesday'. This is an indefinite perfect time marker, as it is happening at > an undefined moment marked by two 'perfect' moments. While the two halves > are marked by different headwords in teh english gloss, there is no reason > they cannot have identical particles to identify them in the artificial > language. The only requirement is that this particle be different from the > particle marking inmperfect durations. > > fut between-friday and-sunday for-two-hours i tidy house > I will tidy up the house for a couple of hours sometime between friday and > sunday. > > fut between-now and-next-week i go london > I will go to london by next week (sometime between now and next week). > > --- > > paired imperfect markers > imperfect - imperfect - [perfect] > [perfect] - imperfect - imperfect > > This indicates a duration of uncertain length, but expected to be between > the two durations specified in the imperfect markers. > > fut for-2-hours for-three-hours they arrive > They will arrive in two or three hours. > > This pair can be combined with a single perfect marker in the normal way. > The last variant shown, although possible, is very unusual when glossed into > English. > > past on-tuesday for-2-hours for-3-hours he play golf > He played (was playing) gold for a couple (two or three) hours last tuesday. > > fut on-friday for-1-week for-2-week i go on holiday > i will go on holiday on friday for a week or two. > > fut for-1-month for-2-month in-decemeber she diet > She will be dieting for a month or two, finishing in december. > > --- > Rhialto > Do colourless green ideas frantically dream of electric sheep?