Imperfective and simple present distinction

Nicholas Ostler nostler at CHIBCHA.DEMON.CO.UK
Thu Jun 26 08:47:44 UTC 2008

Well, how about Japanese?
iku 'go' itte iru 'be going, be gone'
siru 'get to know' sitte iru 'be aware, know'

Or English
'I go' 'I'm going' (both of which have potentially present and future 
time reference)
or the southern Romance languages
Spanish:  'voy' 'estoy andando'
Italian: 'vado' 'sono andando'

The verb 'to be' makes this distinction in Hindi, athough not other 
wo di:va:na: hai 'he is mad' (i.e. 'is now')
pya:r di:va:na: ho:ta hai 'love is mad' (i.e. 'is generally')

Sorry these examples are so 'close to home'. I presume this phenomenon 
is pretty universal.

In all these languages at least, the distinction is just as available in 
the past.

Nicholas Ostler

Kazuha Watanabe wrote:
> Dear all,
>   I am looking for a language which distinguish imperfective and simple
> present (in present tense or non-past tense).  I am especially
> interested in distinction in stative situations (such as 'I am tall' or
> I know the man') It seems that this sort of distinction is more common
> in past tense (i.e., past imperfective vs. plain past tense form/general
> past tense), but not so common in present tense (or non-past)
>   Thank you for your help!
> Kazuha Watanabe

Nicholas Ostler
Chairman, Foundation for Endangered Languages
Registered Charity: England & Wales 1070616
172 Bailbrook Lane, Bath BA1 7AA, England
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