Differences in meaning between grammatical and lexical items

Östen Dahl oesten at LING.SU.SE
Mon Aug 25 19:59:57 UTC 2008

I am interested in possible systematic differences in the meanings connected
with grammatical markers or categories on the one hand and lexical items on
the other. I would therefore like to know the following:

1) Are there languages in which there are lexical items which can be used on
their own (i.e. without the help of some grammatical item) to denote the
following timespans, which show up as the interpretations of tenses in many

- from the beginning of the day of the speech act to the point of speech
- from the evening before the speech act to the point of speech
- from the beginning of the day before the speech to the point of speech
- from the point of speech to the end of the same day

2) Similarly, are there languages which have a lexical item whose primary
meaning is ’yesterday’ but which can also be used for ’the day before
yesterday’ and even ’three days ago’?

3) It seems to be relatively common for a lexical item to mean both
"yesterday" and "tomorrow". Is there a language which has a tense which can
be used only of events that took place yesterday or will take place tomorrow
(without the help of any additional morphemes)? 

- Östen Dahl

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