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LINGUIST List 17.1188

Thu Apr 20 2006

Qs: Individuality of Novel Usage of Present Perfect

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        1.    Tomas Van Stappen, Individuality of Novel Usage of Present Perfect


Message 1: Individuality of Novel Usage of Present Perfect
Date: 19-Apr-2006
From: Tomas Van Stappen <tvstappevub.ac.be>
Subject: Individuality of Novel Usage of Present Perfect


To whom it may concern,

For my dissertation project at the Free University of Brussels I have
chosen a corpus-based study of the forms, functions and distribution of the
Preterite and Present Perfect in American and British English.

I am especially interested in novel uses of the Present Perfect such as ''I
have seen him yesterday''. According to Gachelin this novel usage ''can
even occassionally be already seen at work inside marginal trends of
Standard English''. This novel use is thought of as particularly British
and contrasts with the traditional view that the present perfect cannot
combine with past time adverbials.

It is my guess that this novel use will occur significantly more if a first
person singular pronoun is the subject of a situation that is described by
a present perfect in combination with a past time adverbial. At some
subconscious level, a shift in perspective like this (reference time being
moved from overlapping with the moment of speaking to a time-span situated
entirely before that moment) is too personal and unorthodox for the speaker
to be imposed upon a hearer or some third party. At least, that is one of
my hypotheses.

Unfortunately, I cannot find anything in the literature on the
grammaticization of the present perfect to a past tense that supports or
relates to this hypothesis. Therefore, any suggestions would be greatly
appreciated. I am also interested in articles relating to the degree of
individuality that is involved in grammaticization of the present perfect
(or grammaticization in general), that is in articles that deal with the
role of the individual language user in the process of grammaticization.

Yours sincerely,

Tomas Van Stappen
3rd year Germanic Languages
Free University of Brussels

REFERENCES: Gachelin, Jean-Marc. 1990. Aspect in non-standard English, in
J.L. Duchet (ed). ''L' auxiliare en question'', Travaux Linguistiques du
C.E.R.L.C.O. 2, 1990.

Linguistic Field(s): Psycholinguistics
                            Text/Corpus Linguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

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