Re: THEORY: Temporal Auxiliaries, Aspectual Auxiliaries, Modal Auxiliaries
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, July 7, 2005, 13:09|
On Wednesday, July 6, 2005, at 11:11 , tomhchappell wrote:
> Thank you for contributing, Ray.
You're welcome :)
> "Trask on 'Tense'" -- where is that available exactly?
"A Dictionary of Grammatical Terms in Linguistics" by the late Larry Trask.
The ISBN is:
Well worth purchasing IMHO.
>> [snip out information-dense discussion of TMA of French]
>> Just to confuse things, the simple past in English and the French
>> composite past tense does have a perfective meaning. But as Trask
>> "NOTE: be careful not to confuse perfective aspect with perfect
>> they are entirely distinct."
> What /is/ the difference?
I quote Trask :)
"A distinctive *aspect* most typically expressing a state resulting from
an earlier event, as in _Lisa has gone out_ (i.e. she is not here now). In
English and other languages, the same form is used also to express other
related but distinct aspectual notions, such as the *experiential* (e.g.
_Lisa has worked in Paris_), present relevance of a recent event, the *hot
news perfect* (e.g. _The President has been shot_) and the 'perfect of
persistent situation' (e.g. _Lisa has been working here for an hour_) ...
The perfect is somewhat anomalous among aspectual forms, and its precise
characterization is a matter of some controversy; see Comrie (1976) for
one view and Dahl (1985) for another. The perfect aspect can be combined
with any tense; the examples above all illustrate the *present perfect*,
but the *past perfect* (*pluperfect*) and *future perfect* also exist.
Note that the unmodified term 'perfect' is often loosely applied to the
present perfect. NOTE: it is important not to confuse the 'perfect' aspect
with the *perfective* aspect; they are entirely distinct, in spite of the
unfortunate similarity in their names, which results from the accident
that Latin happened to use the same form in both funtions....."
"A superordinate aspectual category involving a lack of explicit reference
to the internal temporal consistency of a situation, and contrasting
principally with the *imperfective*. In English, perfective aspect is
chieflt expressed by the simple past-tense form, as in _The hamster
climbed up behind the bookcase_ and _Lisa learned French in Caen_. See
Comrie (1976) for discussion. NOTE: be careful not to confuse perfective
aspect with perfect aspect; they are entirely distinct."
Comrie (1976) = "Aspect" by Bernard Comrie, published in 1976 by the
Cambridge University Press.
Dahl (1985) = "Tense and Aspect Systems" by Östen Dahl, publlished in 1985
I regret I do not have the ISBNs for either book.
I suppose in view of Trask's definition of 'perfective', I ought to add
his definition of 'imperfective' and, just to complete things, I'll add
"A superordinate aspectual category making reference to the
internalstructure of the activity expressed by the verb, and contrasting
with the *perfective*. The imperfective may be subdivided into various
more specialized aspectual distinctions, such as *habitual*, *progressive*
and *iterative*. see Comrie (1976) for discussion."
"A conventional label for a verb form which simultaneously expresses
imperfective aspect and past time reference, such as Spanish _bebía_ 'I
used to drink', 'I was drinking'. NOTE: this term must not be coinfused
with the distinct term *imperfective*."
>> Exactly the same. If however French uses the perfect
>> participle then the auxiliary _must_ be
> Intransitives have only active participles, right?
This must normally be the case; it is only languages like Classical Latin
that have an 'impersonal passive' (i.e, a passive form with no grammatical
subject) that allow a passive participle for intransitive, e.g.
arrive-PASSIVE.PERF.PART is.3SG = they arrive; people arrived; we arrived;
on est arrivé etc.
> Thus "I am come", not *"I have come".
Precisely. Both forms are of course OK in English, tho 'I am come' is
somewhat archaic. But in French it is only _je suis venu/ je suis venue_
the form *_j'ai venu_ is not used. It is derived from Vulgar Latin:
*ego sum venutus _or_ *ego sum venuta (cf. Esperanto: mi estas venita)
> Thank you for correcting me.
> I needed to know that "verbal" and "deverbal" didn't mean the same
> I suppose the same is true of "adjectival" and "deadjectival"?
Hadn't thought of that. Yep - 'adjectival' means functioning as an
adjective, so an adjectival noun means a noun functioning as an adjective,
e.g. 'city' in _the city streets_ - we used call the 'epithet nouns' when
I was at school. I suppose a noun derived from an adjective (e.g.
stupidity <-- stupid) could be termed 'deadjectival' but I have never seen
the word. (The first bit sort of looks 'dead' :)
> Verbal nouns are usually called infinitives. In some languages like
>> & English, there is another verbal noun with practically the same
>> as the infinitive, but used in different situations (often in
> English the
>> choice is a matter of style); this is then called the gerund.
> So, that's it? "A language's favorite verbal noun is called
> infinitive; the runner-up is called gerund." Kind of like the
> definition of "corn" -- maize here, wheat there.
It's a rough sort of 'rule of thumb' thing - but it seems to work :)
> Thanks for explaining that.
> So, then, most languages only have one or two kinds of verbal (not
> deverbal) nouns -- infinitives for one, infinitives and gerunds for
> two. Is that right?
Basically, yes I think so. But there odd exceptions e.g. the Brittonic
languages have only one verbal noun and it is traditionally known as the
I should have added that some languages have verbal _adverbs_ and these
are often called 'gerunds'. They are common IIRC in the Slav languages.
> "Supines", in other languages, are non-finite "parts" of the verb,
> but not necessarily verbal nouns; and they don't necessarily resemble
> Latin supines in a systematic way --- they may have only a "family
> resemblance". Is that also right?
IMO that's spot on :)
>>> N4) An "agentive" noun --- what's the right way to say that?
>> agents, actor?
> Now, that one really would be a /de/verbal noun, wouldn't it?
> As "employer", "employee", and "employment" are all /de/verbal nouns
> derived from the verb "employ".
>> [snip -- Participles are Verbal Adjectives, not Deverbal]
>>> N6) Is the biggest difference between Participles Voice (Passive
>> Not sure what you mean. Tense differences are quite common.
> I think in English the difference between the participle "spoken" and
> the participle "speaking" is one of Voice, not one of Tense or
Not entirely. There is a difference of aspect: "speaking" is imperfective;
"spoken" is perfect. Also if the verb is intransitive, the so-called
'past participle' is _active_, e.g. come, gone.
> Through High School I was talked at about Past and Present Participles.
These are the traditional terms, inherited from Latin grammar. But you are
right in that the do not strictly convey tense.
> In college I started hearing about Perfect and Progressive
> Participles.These are better terms.
> It wasn't until a few years ago I started hearing about Active and
> Passive Participles.The 'present'/ progressive/ imperfective participle is always active in
English: laughing, running, speaking etc.
But the 'past'/ perfect participle is _not_ always passive. It is only
passive if the verb is transitive.
> I guess what I was getting at is that in English, the Voice of the
> participle makes all the difference --- the Aspect and the Tense do
> not really matter.
Aspect does matter. Voice plays no part if the verb is intransitive.
> I was also wondering whether or not there are other languages for
> which for some participles the Aspect matters more than the Voice or
> the Tense;
> and whether there are some languages for which for some participles
> the Tense matters more than the Voice or the Aspect.
I don't think tense actually figures in participles, despite the
traditional names often given to different forms. The 'future active
participle' of Latin, for example, is aspectual IMO. AFAIK voice and
aspect tend to get bound up together in participles.
>>> N7) Is there a real Aspectual difference between Participles
>>> vs Imperfect) over and above the Voice difference?
>> Yes - in languages where aspect marking is important, for example
> the Slav
>> and semitic languages.
> I'd love to have a specific example.
OK - brushing the dust off my Russian - verb 'to do, to make'
present active: delajuSij -
present passive: delaemyj -
past active: delavSij sdelavSij
past passive: - sdelannij
gerund*: delaja sdelav
[Note: in the transliteration the symbols have their IPA vales, except: e
= [je] or [jE], and y =  (high central vowel)]
The absence of 'present' participles in the perfectives forms is not
surprising. As I said above I do not think tense comes into the matter. As
in English, the so-called 'present participles' are imperfective
The 'past participles' are more properly 'perfect participles'. Remember
(a) Imperfective and Perfective are _superordinate_ aspectual categories;
(b) "The perfect is somewhat anomalous among aspectual forms, and its
precise characterization is a matter of some controversy" (see above)
>>> N8) Is there a real Tense difference between Participles (Past vs
>>> Present) over and above the Voice and/or Aspect difference?
>> Latin even had a future participle: scripturus = going to write,
> about to
>> write ec.
> Thanks! Great example!
I was tired when i wrote this and not thinking properly. The participle
so-called future participle 'scripturus' is really aspectual.
_scripturus sum_ simply does not mean the same as 'scribam' "I shall/ will
write". The tense in _scripturus sum- is present and denoted by _sum_ "I
am". the sentence says that here and now (present) I am getting ready to
write or I have the intention to write. I have occasionally referred to
this as the 'futuritive' aspect - but there is probably a better term for
> An example is the "verbnoun" in each of your Welsh examples above.
> You seem to have indicated that it is to be thought of as a gerund.
> For instance you translated "ganu" as "singing".
I think this is correct.
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