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Tense, Mood and Aspect

Theoretical and Descriptive Issues


Edited by Louis de Saussure, Jacques Moeschler and Genoveva Puskas

This book is a collection of articles dealing with theoretical issues in the study of tense, mood and aspect, as well as with specific semantic and syntactic problems raised by linguistic expressions dedicated to these domains across a variety of languages. Through these papers, strong variations are explored, but also crosslinguistic convergences are investigated. Numerous phenomena so far often left aside in linguistics are described and enlightened by different scientific standpoints, which they serve to illustrate. The languages investigated in this volume include Germanic languages (Dutch, English, German), Romance (French, Catalan, Italian), Slavic (Serbo-Croatian, Czech, Russian), Greek, and non-indoeuropean languages such as Thai, Digo and Kikuyu. Related topics such as grammaticalization, presuppositions, questions in dialogue, illocutionary acts and acquisition are incidentally called upon in order to shed light from the outside onto tense, mood (and modality) and aspect. This volume is of great interest for all scholars engaged in contemporary research on the linguistic expression of tense, mood and aspect. The papers gathered in this volume are a tight selection of the ones that were presented at the 6th Chronos colloquium.

English mediopassive constructions

A cognitive, corpus-based study of their origin, spread, and current status


Marianne Hundt

This book provides the first empirical study of the history and spread of mediopassive constructions. It investigates the productivity of the pattern, the spread of the construction in Modern English, and looks into text type-specific preferences for the construction. On a more abstract level, it combines the corpus-based description of mediopassive constructions with cognitive linguistic models, drawing largely on notions such as ‘prototype’, ‘family resemblances’, ‘patch’ and ‘construction’. The theoretical modelling is largely based on data from real texts. These come from publicly available machine-readable corpora, text-databases and a single-register ‘corpus’ (American mail-order catalogues). The study combines the corpus-based approach with cognitive theories and is therefore of interest to both empirical and theoretical linguists.


Edited by Jesse Mortelmans, Tanja Mortelmans and Walter De Mulder

The present volume contains a selection of papers presented at the 7th Chronos colloquium in Antwerp (2006). They specifically focus on issues dealing with the categories of Aktionsart, aspect and tense, and the possible relations between these categories, mainly in Germanic and Romance languages. Some of the papers in this collection put the relation between tense and modal meaning into focus, which was in fact the Antwerp conference’s special topic. More in particular, the papers in this volume deal with: non-state imperfectives in Romance and West-Germanic; aspectual properties of French locative constructions; a new typology of accomplishments and achievements; the compatibility of (im)perfective aspect with negation; temporal properties of gerundive adjunct clauses in Portuguese; the Present Perfective Puzzle; the multiple meanings of the present perfect in the Germanic languages; modal uses of present and non-present tenses in Dutch and French; the impossibility to use ‘perfective’ viewpoint tenses in conditional protases.

The Vedic -ya-presents

Passives and intransitivity in Old Indo-Aryan


Leonid Kulikov

This book is the first comprehensive study of the Vedic present formations with the suffix ya (‘ ya-presents’ for short), including both present passives with the accented suffix and non-passive - ya-presents with the accent on the root (class IV in the Indian tradition). It offers a complete survey of all ya-presents attested in the Vedic corpus. The main issue in the spotlight of this monograph is the relationship between form (accent placement, diathesis) and function (passive/non-passive) in the system of the - ya-presents – one of the most solidly attested present classes in Sanskrit. One of the aims of the present study is to corroborate the systematic correlation between accent placement and the passive/non-passive distinction: passives bear the accent on the suffix, while non-passives have the accent on the root. The book also focuses on the position of the passive within the system of voices and valency-changing categories in Old Indo-Aryan.

English Ditransitive Verbs

Aspects of Theory, Description and a Usage-based Model


Joybrato Mukherjee

The present book offers fresh insights into the description of ditransitive verbs and their complementation in present-day English. In the theory-oriented first part, a pluralist framework is developed on the basis of previous research that integrates ditransitive verbs as lexical items with both the entirety of their complementation patterns and the cognitive and semantic aspects of ditransitivity. This approach is combined with modern corpus-linguistic methodology in the present study, which draws on an exhaustive semi-automatic analysis of all patterns of ditransitive verbs in the British component of the International Corpus of English (ICE-GB) and also takes into account selected data from the British National Corpus (BNC). In the second part of the study, the complementation of ditransitive verbs (e.g. give, send) is analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. Special emphasis is placed here on the identification of significant principles of pattern selection, i.e. factors that lead language users to prefer specific patterns over other patterns in given contexts (e.g. weight, focus, pattern flow in text, lexical constraints). In the last part, some general aspects of a network-like, usage-based model of ditransitive verbs, their patterns and the relevant principles of pattern selection are sketched out, thus bridging the gap between the performance-related description of language use and a competence-related model of language cognition.


Edited by Hilde Hasselgård, Stig Johansson, Bergljot Behrens and Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen

The present volume draws together contributions from a number of scholars with an interest in empirical, cross-linguistic description. Most of the papers were first presented at the symposium Information Structure in a Cross-linguistic Perspective held in Oslo in November/December 2000. The descriptions are functionally oriented, and their common focus is how information structure – in a broad sense – can be compared across languages. 'Information structure' has been approached in a variety of ways by the authors, so as to give a broad picture of this fundamental principle of text production, involving the way in which a speaker/writer chooses to present a message in terms of given/new information, focus, cohesion, and point of view. Central to much of the research is the problem of establishing criteria for isolating linguistic constraints on language use from cultural-linguistic conventions in text production. The linguistic comparison includes English, German and/or one of the Scandinavian languages, with sidelights to other languages. Most of the papers are text- or corpus-based, and the ongoing work on parallel corpora in Scandinavia is reflected in several contributions.


Robert I. Binnick

In the Modern Mongolian language there are four verb forms which have traditionally been labelled as past tense markers, differing primarily in aspect. In the last two decades scholars have suspected that the past tenses endings may actually differ by marking evidentiality and inferentiality. The present study not only confirms this, but, using 350 glossed and analyzed examples drawn from a variety of sources, shows distinctions of degrees of remoteness as well, and details significant differences between the spoken and written languages.

Functional Structure in Morphology and the Case of Nonfinite Verbs

Theoretical Issues and the Description of the Danish Verb System


Peter Juul Nielsen

In this book, Peter Juul Nielsen examines the foundations of morphological theory from a structural-functional perspective on language as a sign system. He offers a framework for the analysis of morpheme relations based on a thorough discussion of syntagmatic and paradigmatic structure, indexical relations, zero as meaningful absence and morphological relations across grammatical categories. It is argued that when paradigmatically related morphological structures have different syntactic functions, the semantics of the paradigmatic opposition consists in the specification of functional potential. The framework is applied in three detailed studies of Danish nonfinite verbs presenting new accounts of their morphological structure, semantic coding and paradigmatic organisation.

El gerundio no perifrástico del español

Cómo no ser demasiado explícito ni demasiado implícito


Anne Verhaert

El gerundio no perifrástico es una forma verbal mal comprendida: unos abusan de ella, otros la rehuyen. Lo cierto es que la bibliografía existente -esencialmente normativa- se empeña infructuosamente en clasificar los distintos tipos de gerundios en unas taxonomías semántico-sintácticas bien delimitadas, pasando por alto la especificidad discursiva de la forma. La comunicación humana es una combinación de lo dicho y lo inferido. De ahí que toda expresión lingüística sea un compromiso entre decir demasiado y no decir lo suficiente. El análisis presentado en este libro describe en detalle cómo la construcción gerundiva combina dos funciones: por un lado, deja implícita cierta información relacional, por otro, especifica elementos de información ya presentes en la oración matriz o inferibles de ella. Dicha ambivalencia discursiva -exceso versus déficit de información- confiere a la construcción gerundiva un lugar particular en el sistema sintáctico del español.

Aorists and Perfects

Synchronic and diachronic perspectives


Edited by Marc Fryd and Pierre-Don Giancarli

This volume gathers nine contributions dealing with Aorists and Perfects. Drinka challenges the notion of Aoristic Drift in Romance languages. Walker considers two emergent uses of the Perfect in British English. Jara seeks to determine the constraints on tense choice within narrative discourse in Peruvian Spanish. Henderson argues for a theory based on Langacker’s ‘sequential scanning’ in Chilean and Uruguayan Spanish. Delmas looks at ’Ua in Tahitian, a polysemic particle with a range of aspectual and modal meanings. Bourdin addresses the expression of anteriority with just in English. Yerastov examines the distribution of the transitive be Perfect in Canadian English. Fryd offers a panchronic study of have-less perfect constructions in English. Eide investigates counterfactual present perfects in Mainland Scandinavian dialects.