[Lingtyp] R: Non-present lexemes

Tom Koss Tom.Koss at uantwerpen.be
Wed Dec 7 11:31:32 UTC 2022

Hi Christian,

very true - the perfective aspect does not refer to the non-present in itself, its semantics simply clashes with a present interpretation in most instances. This is also illustrated by the fact that in some languages (e.g., Koiari [Trans-New Guinea]), the perfective can express, or is even the default way to express present-time reference on stative verbs. Whether an utterance like "s/he knows (right now)" should then actually be interpreted as "s/he has understood (in the past)" is yet another question, of course..

So indeed, I might need to remove Slavic perfectives/aorists from the list of non-present grams. Thanks for pointing that out.

From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of Christian Lehmann <christian.lehmann at uni-erfurt.de>
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Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] R: Non-present lexemes

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Dear Tom,

the semantic property you are interested in may be shared by the perfective aspect of more languages. Another one is Cabecar (Chibchan). Similarly as in Russian (salvo errore), the perfective most of the time refers to past events, but reference to future events is possible. It seems that such a behavior of an aspect morpheme is not quite the same as the semantics of temporal adverbs that have been adduced. These latter do refer to points or periods of time, whereas the perfective views the event in question in its entirety, including the boundaries of its extension in time. This is straightforwardly possible for past events, but requires additional interpretive effort for future events. What I am saying is that the perfective aspect may not quite meet the requirement of your initial quest about "time reference".


Prof. em. Dr. Christian Lehmann
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