LINGUIST List 9.648

Mon May 4 1998

Sum: (Partially) Redundant Tense Marking

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  1. Annabel Cormack, (Partially) Redundant Tense Marking

Message 1: (Partially) Redundant Tense Marking

Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 16:16:20 +0100
From: Annabel Cormack <>
Subject: (Partially) Redundant Tense Marking

I am grateful to Nathan Sanders, Daniel L. Everett, Stephane Goyette,
Christer Platzack, Antony Dubach Green, and Claire Bowern for replies
to my query.

The context of my question is as follows:

Neil Smith and I argued in UCLWPL 1997 that in English, perfect, for
example, is coded by the Aux 'have' (which carries the perfective
meaning), plus an associated Infl head which is responsible for the
'-en' shape of the following verb/aux, (and whose meaning is
effectively null). Similarly, we argued that past tense is coded by T,
carrying past meaning, plus an associated Infl responsible for the
'-ed' inflection. We predict, then, there could be languages where
the T head has overt phonological content, as a particle, while the
following verb/aux also bears overt tense-related inflection.

Languages suggested which might instantiate this pattern are Nahuatl
( a preverbal o- with preterites); and certain dialects of Modern
Irish (preverbal particle DO with preterite, imperfect and
conditional, but no particle with present and future). More
suggestions would be welcome.

I was also given interesting examples of other redundancies in coding
for tense information (e.g. on pronouns or noun phrases; and
repetition of inflection).

Annabel Cormack.
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