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 correct...at 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."
> "The catll catch the mouse."
> "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
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