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THEORY: Tenses (was: Re: THEORY: ... Auxiliaries...)

From:tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>
Date:Saturday, July 9, 2005, 18:14
Hello, Doug, Max, and other contributors, and thanks for writing.

Does Comrie, or anyone, know what the maximum number of tenses in any
natlang is?

Does anyone have a complete list of all tenses that have been
attested in natlangs?

Aside from the "hesteral past" (yesterday) and "crastinal future"
(tomorrow), "hodial past" (earlier today) and "hodial future"
(earlier tomorrow), are there any other specific time periods that
natural languages have attested tenses for? (Last night, tomorrow
night, day-before-yesterday, day-after-tomorrow, last month, next
month, last/next spring/summer/winter/fall/year?)

Doesn't Japanese have some kind of "yesterday, day before yesterday,
day before day before yesterday, tomorrow, day after tomorrow, day
after day after tommorrow" terminology? (I could be wrong -- I often
am, just don't let my wife know I said that.)

Some languages (which ones?) have "anterior" and "posterior" pasts
and futures.

"Anterior past"-- happened before some already-mentioned past event.
"posterior past" -- happened in the past, but after some already-
mentioned past event.
"anterior future"-- will happen in the future, but before some
already mentioned future event.
"posterior future" -- will happen after some already mentioned future

A "shifted" tense system also seems reasonable -- Present, Past,
Future; Past's Past, Past's Future; Future's Past, Future's Future;
Now, that is attested, isn't it?
By what languages?

Some languages distinguish between "immediate past/future" and "near
What's the difference?

Also, some languages have "immediate past", "near past", "past",
and "remote past".
How long ago does it have to have been, to be considered "remote
(Consider question asked symmetrically for "future".)

Also, some languages with a "hodial" and "hesteral" past, also have
an "immediate" past, a "near" past, and a "remote" past.  How do the
immediate/near/remote system and the hodial/hesteral/earlier system
interact with each other?
(For future, same for the hodial/crastinal/later.)

Is there an attested language with the hodial/hesteral/crastinal
opposition, the anterior/posterior opposition, and the
immediate/near/remote opposition, all interacting simultaneously in
the same language?

--- In, Doug Dee <AmateurLinguist@A...> wrote:
> In a message dated 7/8/2005 3:37:42 PM Eastern Daylight Time, > salut_vous_autre@H... writes: > > >But there are no language that distinct more than those? like
> >"far past" from "near past" or having a "past" and a > >"past-that-is-too-far-for-anyone-being-able-to-remember-it-
precisely" that
> >they would use in stories, genesis histories, dreams, childhood
memories of
> >the oldest members of the group...? > > Degrees of remoteness in the past (and future) tense are not
> E.g., In _Tense_, Bernard Comrie mentions the Haya language of
Tanzania, with
> separate past tenses for "earlier today", "yesterday", and "before > yesterday." > > "Recent past" vs. "nonrecent past" is also a common distinction,
but I recall
> reading somewhere that no natural language has a tense cutoff based
on a
> specific historical event. > That is, it is apparently unknown for a languge to have, for
example, one
> tense for events on and after July 4, 1776 and one for events
before that date. You mean, like CE and BCE?
> > Doug
Thanks for writing. Tom H.C. in MI


JS Bangs <jaspax@...>
Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>