[Lingtyp] Non-present lexemes

Mike Klein kdogg36 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 2 13:36:16 UTC 2022


Mandarin adverb 最近 (zuìjìn) can mean either “recently” or “in the near
future,” but not “now.”

Mike Klein
Ph.D., George Mason University

On Fri, Dec 2, 2022 at 6:15 AM Tom Koss <Tom.Koss at uantwerpen.be> wrote:

> Dear all,
> I’m looking for any kind of linguistic item (TMA markers, particles,
> adverbials etc.) that can convey both past- and future-time reference but
> that do not appear in present contexts.
> The items I’m looking for do not have to be “non-present tense” markers in
> the strict sense, i.e., bound morphemes which have non-present time
> reference as their core meaning - even though this would be most
> interesting of course. They can also be more loosely connected to the verb
> phrase, have additional, more specific meanings, and/or be compatible with
> other tense markers.
> The only criterion is that the items in question allow for both past and
> future interpretations of the clauses they appear in (the choice between
> the two depending on non-linguistic or grammatical context), while a
> present interpretation is generally *not* possible. I would also be
> interested in languages where the expression of a certain grammatical
> category is similar in the past and future tense(s), while the present
> tense behaves differently in some way (see e.g. the Awa Pit example below).
> Below are a few examples for the phenomenon I am referring to:
>    - Nez Perce (Sahaptian) has a lexeme *watiisx *‘one day away’ that can
>    mean ‘tomorrow’ or ‘yesterday’, depending on the tense marking in the
>    respective clause (Deal 2010: 120). The same thing seems to happen with the
>    lexeme *kel *in Hindi (Indo-Aryan) (Kachru 1997: 95) and with *ejo *in
>    Kinyarwanda (Bantu) (Nkusi 1995: 580). All three languages have
>    separate lexemes meaning ‘today’.
>    - The lexeme *hibajata* in Jarawara (Arawá) is interpreted as ‘later
>    today’ in the absence of tense marking, and as ‘just now’ in
>    combination with the immediate past marker *-ra *(Dixon 2004: 224).
>    There are no examples given where it is translated as ‘right now’ or ‘at
>    this moment’.
>    - Awa Pit (Barbacoan) has several strategies to mark clausal negation.
>    One of them, the negative suffix *-ma*, indicates past-time reference
>    in the absence of tense marking, and future-time reference in combination
>    with the future marker *-ni *(Curnow 1997: 332/33). In my assessment,
>    it cannot combine with the imperfective suffix *-mtu*, which is the
>    default marker to express present-time reference in the language.
> If you can think of similar examples in languages you are familiar with, I
> would be very interested in knowing more about them, so as to get a better
> idea about how common such items with non-present semantics are
> cross-linguistically, and what their distribution might be. So far, I have
> mostly found them in the Americas.
> Many thanks in advance!
> Best wishes,
> Tom Koss
> PhD candidate at the University of Antwerp
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