Imperfective marking in present tense

Balthasar Bickel autotype at UNI-LEIPZIG.DE
Mon Jan 21 07:12:13 UTC 2008

On 21 Jan 2008, at 3:39, Kazuha Watanabe wrote:
> generalized imperfectives (but not progressive---one of the easiest
> syntactic test would be that progressives do not apply to stative  
> verbs
> whereas imperfectives do) and plain present tense shear so much of  
> their
> functions, as Östen pointed out, I figured the languages that would  
> make
> such a distinction would be rare. I wanted to know if there is any,  
> and if
> there is, what the function of each form is like.

Here is a possible example: Belhare (Kiranti: Sino-Tibetan, Nepal)  
has a three-way opposition between a simple nonpast, an imperfective  
and what I call a 'temporary' form (all applicable to stative verbs).  
The simple form is aspectually unmarked and has a similar range of  
uses as the English simple present. The temporary entails that a  
situation (of any kind, including states) holds for a limited stretch  
of time around 'now', while the imperfective entails continuation but  
no delimitation. The imperfective is used in the present only in  
cases of irony or reproach, where the speakers wishes to implicate  
that a situations appears to hold 'forever'. A Neo-Gricean analysis  
of this can be found in Chapter 5.3 of:
Bickel, B. 1996. Aspect, mood, and time in Belhare. Zurich: ASAS  
Press. []

- Balthasar Bickel


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