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Re: Noun tense

From:Tim May <butsuri@...>
Date:Monday, July 22, 2002, 20:23
Peter Clark writes:
 > On Monday 22 July 2002 10:46, julien eychenne wrote:
 > > le lun 22-07-2002  ,b` (B 16:55, Peter Clark a  ,bi (Bcrit :
 > > >         English contractions are showing the possibility of developing
 > > > into a noun-tense system, just as soon as we stop analysing them as
 > > > noun+auxiliary. Consider:
 > >
 > > Well, I don't get it. I am wondering how we could consider pronoun +
 > > auxiliary as tensed nouns, even  if I try hard. Tensed nouns are
 > > supposed to bear in themselves a tense value, such as nawatl |in
 > > tl ,bb (Bnamaka-k| is 'the one who sold' > "the seller". But pronouns in that
 > > case don't bear this value intrinsecally (we don't have |I'll| =
 > > *"future me" or something like that) but it just supports the value of
 > > the tensed verb. So it seems that these are two different things.
 >         You are this point in English's development. What my point was
 > that it is entirely possible that future generations will analyze (pro-)noun
 > + auxiliary contraction as a single unit.
 >         For example, take the natural process of languages, which generally moves
 > isolating -> agglutinating -> fusional -> isolating. What were individual
 > words in an isolating language become fixed to a stem as the language becomes
 > more agglutinating. To take an English example,
 > "anti-dis-establish-ment-ari-an-ism" is one word, but the various components
 > of meaning are expressed by their own morpheme. As time goes on and the
 > language becomes more fusional, these morphemes likewise become squashed
 > together, so that the "-o" in "hablo" is a first-person, present tense,
 > whatever-else morpheme. One morpheme does double/triple/quadruple duty.
 >         It is not a stretch then to see how "-ll" could become the future tense
 > marker for a noun. Currently:
 >         "The cat'll catch the mouse."
 >         Then:
 >         "The catll catch the mouse."
 >         Then:
 >         "The catll catch the mousll."
 >         Once the "-ll" is no longer seen as an auxiliary, but as part of the noun,
 > the process will most likely continue to the point where direct and indirect
 > objects will receive some sort of marking as well, as future generations
 > start analyzing "-ll" as a normal morpheme for nouns.

This, it seems to me, is perfectly reasonable, but is a matter of
marking verb tense on nouns, rather than of noun tense in the sense
that I understand the term.  In your example, "The catll catch the
mousll.", the -ll marker refers to the tense of the catching, not of
the cat and the mouse.  The future tense of "cat" would mean "that
which will be a cat".  Granted, a language with such a feature might
well use future tense of cat and mouse in this case, as the event is
in the future, but I don't see any evidence that English is developing
such a system.

 >         What happened in the case of Enamyn was that the auxiliary became a morpheme
 > of the stem of the main subject. The various markers for direct and indirect
 > objects were re-analyzed as temporally relational markers; as time went on,
 > these relational markers gained additional semantic meaning to indicate that
 > they refered to either the future, the present, or the past of the subject.
 > Hence, in the sentence "She-past write poem-r.pres to.honor
 > grandfather-r.past" has three nouns: "She," which is in the past, "poem,"
 > which is concurrent in the past with "she" (relative-present), and
 > "grandfather," which is in the past of the past "she" (relative-past). The
 > literal sense of the sentence is, "She wrote a poem to honor her dead
 > grandfather."
 >         :Peter

Interesting.  I'm not sure that I fully understand what these tenses
mean, though.  Is the verb generally in the relative present?  I
mean... I'm not sure which tense marker absolutely determines the
tense of the action, "write", which is what most often has a tense in


Tristan McLeay <kesuari@...>
bnathyuw <bnathyuw@...>Noun tense + pater noster
Peter Clark <peter-clark@...>