[Lingtyp] R: Non-present lexemes

Tom Koss Tom.Koss at uantwerpen.be
Wed Dec 7 15:39:22 UTC 2022

Dear Björn,

That is a very good point. Even though I would, tentatively and as someone who doesn't know very much about pragmatics, suggest that there might be a difference between "true" sequentiality, marking sequence of events in real time, and "discursive" sequentiality, used to "link up a verbal (re)action with what has been the topic of the verbal exchange", as you put it.

  2.  The reason I mentioned the Macedonian aorist as being able to refer to both past and future was the following passage from Ricardo's exchange with his student: "when [the aorist is] used with a future meaning, it generally has the implication of something being 'imminent', like it is a guaranteed and unavoidable event (or a strong promise or threat)".
As for Russian, I didn't want to say that the present perfective could have a past interpretation. What I had in mind was the Russian perfective as such, irrespective of tense marking, because it typically has past-time reference with past tense morphology and future-time reference with present tense morphology. The fact that the distinction between past and future reference is conditioned by additional tense marking does not contradict my definition of non-present items - in my initial inquiry, I explicitly said that the choice between past and future interpretations may be conditioned by grammatical context (which, I strongly assume, is also the case for most temporal adverbs mentioned in this thread). Does that make sense?

From: Wiemer, Bjoern <wiemerb at uni-mainz.de>
Sent: Wednesday, December 7, 2022 12:33 PM
To: Tom Koss <Tom.Koss at uantwerpen.be>
Subject: RE: [Lingtyp] R: Non-present lexemes

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Lieber Tom,

ich wäre sehr froh, wenn wir zu diesem Thema weiter im engeren Kontakt bleiben könnten. Ich glaube, dieses Thema ist geprägt von einigen Mißverständnissen in der „mainstream“-Literatur, so daß es sehr wichtig scheint, ganz genau festzulegen, was man mit „present“, „temporal reference“ u.a. Dingen meint. Sehr kurz gesagt: die Futurfunktion des PFV.PRS ergibt sich im Slavischen als spezieller Bereich von „Nonpast-Irrealis“; was natürlich voraussetzt, daß man auch „Irrealis“ gut eingrenzt…

Im Anhang noch ein „recent paper“ meinerseits. Ist vielleicht nicht ganz unnütz.

Mit besten Grüßen,


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%7Cee22d939b87441ee29d308dad84b3c86%7C792e08fb2d544a8eaf72202548136ef6%7C0%7C0%7C638060115009803669%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=T5BeIZ9wnorvhg7JrxQBHOVAznjXqowhhvTlmHAt%2BNQ%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>

Mobile Phone (Israel): +972-526117713

Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-082113720302

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