LINGUIST List 5.473

Fri 22 Apr 1994

Sum: Go-past

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Manuel Perez Saldanya, go-past

Message 1: go-past

Date: Thu, 21 Apr 94 12:09:29 +0go-past
From: Manuel Perez Saldanya <>
Subject: go-past

Following my request in LINGUIST about the use of
"go-past" constructions in languages different
from Catalan, I have received the information that
is summarized below. Does anyone notice of any
other languages which have got a similar "go-past"
or "go-narrative". I will be very grateful to have
any information about it or any suggestion on the
hipotheses formulated below.

Concerning the use of the "go-past" in other
languages, Karen Watson-Gegeo has pointed out that
in Hawai'i Creole English it is possible to use
"wen" (went) as a past marker ("ai wen giv da ki
to Shalin"= 'I gave the key to Charlene') as well
as a go-future ("wi go teik om hom tude" = 'we
will take her home today'). In addition, Steven
Schaufele and H. Heinrich Hock comment that many
Modern Indo-Aryan languages (Hindi, etc.) use
verbs of motion as punctual (or telic) aspect

On the other hand, John Koontz shows that there
could be a parallelism between the Catalan
"go-past" and the colloquial American English
construction "goes and ..." ("So then he goes and
tells me to get lost." = 'Then he told me to get
lost.') , used in a continuous oral narrative.
I am working on it this same hypothesis. My point
is that the Catalan "go-past" origin is similar
to that of constructions such as "goes/takes and."
frequent in many Western languages. All these
constructions share two important features: (1)
the use of the historic present (and therefore,
the preterite sense); and (2) the function as
markers of unexpected event subsequences. This
narrative function seems to be the original
meaning of the Catalan "go-past", and probably in
the Hawai'i Creole English "wen-past" too.

I believe that this narrative function could be
considered a "space to sequencing" metaphor: the
meaning of accomplished motion from a source to a
goal that characterizes the use of "go" both in
past (as in Hawai'i Creole) and in historic
present (as in Catalan) is reinterpreted in a
narrative discourse as an emphatic marker of
sequencing. If this is true, the Catalan "go-past"
should have gone through the following evolution
(diachronic path): accomplished motion > narrative
marker of sequencing > past marker.

I will be very grateful of having any information
about languages which have got a similar
"go-narrative" or "go-past", or any suggestion on
the hypotheses formulated above.

Manuel Perez-Saldanya

Universidad de Valencia
Facultat de Filologia
Avda. Blasco Ibanez, 28
46010, Valencia (Spain)

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