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

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, July 10, 2005, 16:49
On Sunday, July 10, 2005, at 01:26 , Doug Dee wrote:

> In a message dated 7/9/2005 2:17:29 PM Eastern Daylight Time, > tomhchappell@YAHOO.COM writes: > >> Does Comrie, or anyone, know what the maximum number of tenses in any >> natlang is? > > Comrie says that some languages have 5 degrees of remoteness in the past > and > 5 in the future (e.g., Bamileke-Dschang of Cameroon). He doesn't mention > any > with 6 & 6, so I presume he hasn't found any. > > He says the record for distinct past tenses is 6 or 7 (his source is > lamentably unclear) in Kiksht (a Chinookan language of the northwestern > USA).
Does he? Is he using 'tense' in the strict meaning 'correlating directly with distinctions of time', that is no aspect (or mood) is involved? If so, I am a little skeptical of these figures. Do we have any details. I said in a recent mail that conventionally Latin is said to have 6 indicative tenses (but these 'tenses' involve both tense & aspect). i have come across some books that add a 'periphrastic future': scripturus sum, scripturus es etc. These denote the near future. Indeed it is possible to postulate three future tenses for Latin & Esperanto thus: NEAR FUTURE 'NORMAL' FUTURE DISTANT FUTURE scripturus sum scribam scripturus ero skribontas skribos skribontos But if we realize that near & remote Esperanto forms are not entirely 'standard' and according to purists are better written as 'estas skribonta' and 'estos skribonta' we get a bit suspicious. Indeed if we tried to write out all 12 possible Esperanto indicative forms _serially_ we would find many problems. This is *no* crticism of Espernto - he says hastily - it is the fault of trying to arrange a system in which aspect & tense are involved in a serial form. It cannot be done. [snip]
>> You mean, like CE and BCE? > Right. No language has a tense for events BCE and a tense for events CE.
So I should think! 'twould be a tad culturally biased, methinks. Next we'll be looking for langusages with different tenses for before and after the Hejira, or before and after the Annus Mundi of the Jewish Calendar, or wonder why Latin never developed special tenses for events that happened before the founding of the City :-D Ray =============================================== =============================================== MAKE POVERTY HISTORY


tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>