[Lingtyp] R: Non-present lexemes

Wiemer, Bjoern wiemerb at uni-mainz.de
Wed Dec 7 11:29:37 UTC 2022

Dear Tom,
thanks for this nice digest. However, on the spot, I'd like to make two comments.

  1.  You can have sequentiality in simple clauses if you just consider items like Germ. dann 'then'. Speakers can just use this in reaction to some verbal exchange in which it has ben discussed how to act in some particular situation. A speaker may then (ditto!) say: Dann laß es uns doch so machen. (translating probably as sth. like 'Well, then let us proceed in this way'). This might be equivalent to "In diesem Fall / Wenn die Sache so ist,...." 'If this is the case... (let us do so and so)', and here dann might be argued to be sth. like a discourse connective to link up a verbal (re)action with what has been the topic of the verbal exchange. However, it is a simple clause. Note that it works not only with directive (hortative) speech acts (as above), but also with a (superficially) declarative like Dann machen wir es so, literally 'Then we (will) do it this way', but implying, of course, an indirect hortative (or even imperative) speech act (depending on the "power relations" between the interlocutors at the given point of discourse).
  2.  I haven't quite understood why you refer to Macedonian aorist (it would be same for Bulgarian). This is simply a delimitative aspect for the past domain. Can it be used to refer to future events?

And, by the way, why do you mention Russian (probably entire North Slavic) perfective present here? Do present tense forms of pfv. stems refer to past events? They may do so, indeed, if unlimited and irregular repetition (habituals) is what you have in mind. But in this case temporal reference seems to be just suspended, the only thing that counts is the boundedness of each particular occurrence of the denoted situation type (i.e. the lexical meaning of the verb). Is this what you have asked for?


From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> On Behalf Of Tom Koss
Sent: Wednesday, December 7, 2022 11:55 AM
To: Lingtyp list <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] R: Non-present lexemes

Dear all,

many, many thanks for all the responses! I really appreciate it. I hope you forgive me that I cannot respond to every contributor personally.

A few summarizing observations: this phenomenon seems to be much more widespread than I would have assumed, especially in Indo-European and Uralic languages. Also, non-present semantics seems to be associated mostly with adverbs and particles, while verbal paradigms referring to the non-present are much rarer, the only examples for the latter being the recency/remoteness markers of Piraha, the Macedonian aorist and the perfective aspect in Russian.

Within the group of adverbs, I could make out three different types with more or less equal frequencies: adverbs indicating a short relative distance from the present ('recent past and near future'), adverbs indicating a great relative distance from the present ('remote past and remote future'), and adverbs indicating an absolute, in most cases intermediate distance from the present ('yesterday and tomorrow', or even 'day before yesterday and day after tomorrow'). For some adverbs, one of the two temporal interpretations (past or future) is more typical or considered to be 'the correct one' by prescriptivists.

The fact that any clausal connective encoding some kind of sequentiality can, by definition, only refer to the non-present is something I hadn't thought about, so thanks for drawing my attention to it. I maybe should have added to my definition that I am mainly looking for non-present semantics within simple clauses.

Many thanks again! Please feel free to provide me with further examples in case something else comes to your mind.

All best,

From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org<mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org>> on behalf of Raffaele Simone <raffaele.simone at uniroma3.it<mailto:raffaele.simone at uniroma3.it>>
Sent: Sunday, December 4, 2022 5:03 PM
To: David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de<mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>>; lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org<mailto:lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org> <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org<mailto:lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>>
Subject: [Lingtyp] R: Non-present lexemes

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Dear friends,

the Italian adverb ora "now" means both "quite recently in the past" and "shortly".

  1.  Ne abbiamo parlato ora

We talked about it an instant ago

  1.  Ne parleremo ora

We shall talk about it in a moment




Emeritus Professor, Università Roma Tre

Hon C Lund University

Membre de l'Académie Royale de Belgique

Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France

Accademico (corrispondente) della Crusca

Prix de l'Institut de France-Fondation Bonnefous 2022


Attività e pubblicazioni // Activity and publications http://uniroma3.academia.edu/RaffaeleSimone<https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Funiroma3.academia.edu%2FRaffaeleSimone&data=05%7C01%7Ctom.koss%40uantwerpen.be%7Cb429efa4eff2415035e208dad696db03%7C792e08fb2d544a8eaf72202548136ef6%7C0%7C0%7C638058242037736669%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C2000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=NEVBVJ0AmpFZjueZOuUMJXTEklGNVSOyEyVOc8Rjjgg%3D&reserved=0>

Da: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org<mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org>> Per conto di David Gil
Inviato: venerdì 2 dicembre 2022 20:07
A: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org<mailto:lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Oggetto: Re: [Lingtyp] Non-present lexemes

Dear all,

In English, 'this evening', uttered at around 3 or 4 am, can, with a bit of effort, be understood as referring to either the previous evening or the following evening, depending on context, but not to the present time.

In Hebrew, a similar but less marginal (ie. much more common) pattern is evident with halayla (DEF:night), which, when uttered during daytime, can refer to either the preceding night ('last night') or the following night ('tonight'), but obviously not to the present.

The generalization seems to be that English this / Hebrew ha= plus part-of-day expression refers to the nearest appropriate part of day to the time of speech, with no inherent specification of relative (past, present or future) time.  (With an added complication for English, which, instead of #this night, has either last night or tonight for past and future respectively.)



David Gil

Senior Scientist (Associate)

Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig, 04103, Germany

Email: gil at shh.mpg.de<mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>

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