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Problem with Tense

From:Jeffrey Jones <jsjonesmiami@...>
Date:Sunday, December 9, 2007, 23:17
I've been trying to figure out the best way of translating, "That was a cat."
into MNCL5. I have three possibilities. Assume that nic-, glossed as 3I-DEM,
can mean that/those, there, is there etc. depending on what kind of ending it
has. SCT means Subordinate Clause Terminator. TNS means tenseless.

(1) Ya nicek da katen.

(2) Nic'ha katen.

(3) Nica katek.

(1) uses a relative clause and is the most precise, but is rather long. A more
literal translation might be, "What was there is a cat."
(2) uses a retrospective participle instead of a relative clause. The problem
with this is that the retrospective, at least outside of participles and verbal
nouns, requires that the time of the prior event be non-specific, while here a
specific past time is implied.
(3) is probably the first that would occur to a native English speaker. Nic- isn't
marked to indicate past or retrospective since tense is relative to that of the
verb (yes, "cat" acts like a verb in these examples). However, by using a
tense marker other than -en, it suggests that the cat might shape-shift into
something else.

Any comments?



Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>