A Proposal for the Semantics of Tenses in English. Montreal Working Papers in Linguistics, Vol. 1, March 1974 [microform] / James A. McGilvray
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- McGilvray, James A
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- [Washington, D.C.] : Distributed by ERIC Clearinghouse, 1974
- 18 p.
English tenses are discussed in terms of a unique ordering of three moments of time: the moment of speech, the moment of the event and the reference point. The aims of the paper are to: (1) show the usefulness of introducing the concept of reference point in tense analysis, (2) provide an account of how to construe reference points semantically, and (3) speculate on how to fit this semantics of tenses into a formal grammar of English. Reference point is defined as an expression which refers to a moment of time at which it is appropriate to utter some temporally-positioned version of the sentence in question, and as an expression that designates a time at which the speaker of the sentence might imagine himself as uttering some version of the sentence in question. This definition has to do with speaker strategies, aims of discourse, and beliefs of the speaker. In this analysis, tenses are viewed as properties of entire sentences rather than as properties of verbs or verb phrases. A semantic approach is proposed, since tenses are not always marked morphologically or syntactically. Representations of all relevant tenses and sequence of tense rules can be generated by the proposed analysis. (CLK)
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