Imperfective and simple present distinction

Nigel Vincent nigel.vincent at MANCHESTER.AC.UK
Thu Jun 26 11:52:58 UTC 2008

A small correction to Nick's posting. the Italian here should be 'sto  
andando' - i.e. the auxiliary in this construction is 'stare' not  
'essere'. It is perhaps also worth noting that this construction,  
although attested with 'andare' 'go', is more frequent with more  
obviously agentive verbs such as 'sta cantando' 'he is singing'.

   Quoting Nicholas Ostler <nostler at CHIBCHA.DEMON.CO.UK>:

> 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 (lexical)
> verbs:
> 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
> Phone: +44 (0)1225-852865 Mobile: (0)7720-889319
> nostler at

Professor Nigel Vincent, FBA
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