"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more
To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.
This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.
EDITORS: de Saussure, Luis; Moeschler, Jacques; Puskas, Genoveva TITLE: Tense, Mood and Aspect SUBTITLE: Theoretical and Descriptive Issues SERIES TITLE: Cahiers Chronos 17 PUBLISHER: Rodopi YEAR: 2007
Eleni Staraki, University of Chicago
SUMMARY This book is the new volume of the collection ''Cahiers Chronos''. The selected papers presented at 6th Chronos Colloquium, University of Geneva, September 2004 deal with theoretical issues in the crosslinguistic study of tense, aspect and mood. A short introduction containing an overview of the volume content and structure is followed by thirteen papers.
Co Vet's paper ''The descriptive inadequacy of Reichenbach's tense system: A new proposal'' introduces a new proposal for the organization of temporal representations. By a set of detailed and original criticisms he puts forward a new account of tense without the defects of the classical Reichenbach system. More precisely, Reichenbach proposes three main perspective points. In contrast, Vet proposes two main perspective points to the tense system and provides morphological evidence from French. This is because the reference point R, according to Vet, cannot be placed in the future in the same way as it can be placed at a present or a past time. Furthermore, he introduces the Phasal Aspect in order to describe the meaning of some of the tenses like the Composed Past and the Periphrastic Future from French. This newly proposed system obviates the representation of Reichenbach's system ambiguity and deals with the fact that the Future of the Future is not attested in natural languages.
Hans Smessaert in his ''The evaluation of aspectual distance, speed and progress'' discusses the evaluation of adverbial expressions that belong to the realm of the imperfective aspect (internal structure of events and states). His conclusions yield from a study of Dutch adverbial expressions like nog niet (not yet) / al (already) / nog (still) / niet meer (no longer). The analysis is as follows: (1) the basic aspectual analysis, (2) the evaluation of aspectual distance, (3) the evaluation of aspectual speed and progress and (4) the evaluation of aspectual distance, speed and progress. He proposes a dynamic semantics of these temporal inferences based on a basic polarity grid and he generalizes on the distinction between positive and negative polarity of event-types.
In his paper ''The grammaticalization of tense markers: A pragmatic reanalysis'', Steve Nicolle discusses movement verbs that become tense markers through the process of grammaticalization. In contrast with the general view that those verbs undergo both structural and semantic change, he illustrates examples from English and Digo (a Bantu language spoken in East Africa) which, although they derive from verbs of movement and behave syntactically as tense markers, have not undergone structural change. He presents the case of 'go in' structures like 'go and V'. He argues that the verb becomes closely linked to the following modifying verb by losing its inflexional properties and becoming a verbal suffix. Then, the verb's meaning related to the physical movement refers to time and events. He ends his article by pointing out that all deictic movement verbs help anchor a situation with respect to the deictic center. Nevertheless, in the constructions he describes the secondary function has now become primary, and this is an example of subjectification rather than semantic change that underlies grammaticalization.
In the paper ''Aspectual interactions between predicates and their external arguments in French'', Maria Asnes brings forward for consideration the case that not only internal but also external arguments can interact with the aspect of their predicates. She extends Krifka's definition (1998) of homomorphism to the domain of the external arguments and presents her version of it. Her claim is based on the fact that iterativity, which is also a property of external arguments, creates a sort of homomorphism. This will yield to aspectual interactions between the predicate and the external argument. She later on provides eight feature configurations where an external argument triggers an iterative homomorphism and thus participate in aspectual composition. Interestingly, her account for aspectual interactions is applicable both to nominal and verbal constituents.
In the paper ''Alors as a possible temporal connective in discourse'' Anne Le Draoulec and Myriam Bras address the question of the temporal properties of the French 'alors' within the framework of DRT (Discourse Representation Theory). More specifically, they put forward the hypothesis that the position of 'alors' plays a crucial role on what temporal properties this item will acquire. Moreover, they illustrate their hypothesis with examples of 'alors' in initial, internal and final positions and they show that when in initial position 'alors' implies a dependency link, while when in internal or final position it does not force a dependency link. This is because in this position 'alors' depends on semantic-pragmatic context and they argue that then it can't be considered a connective.
In the paper ''The power of prepositions: Is he sleeping now or usually?'' Tijana Asic argues that a temporal reading can also yield from an adjunct that, although not an eventuality by default, is understood as a kind of temporal interval. Specifically, she presents the interesting case of two spatial prepositions in Serbian which have temporal interpretations. She illustrates this with examples of the semantic distribution of 'po' and 'na', as follows: 'po' is used with continues substances (static or in motion) and 'na' is used with static discrete object(s). However, both are also used to express temporal relations. In the case of 'po', the temporal relation is external and there is no physical contact, whereas in the case of 'na', a physical contact is implied. Furthermore, she presents examples of two space and time markers from Kikuyu, a Bantu language, that reinforce her arguments for prepositions that affect the interpretation of the tense in a sentence.
In the paper ''On the dual nature of the Catalan present perfect'' Hortènsia Curell and Mercè Coll present their study on the double value (temporal and aspectual) of the Catalan present perfect and propose a unified account of the different readings of the present perfect. Their study is based on a corpus analysis of nine contemporary plays written in Catalan and shows that the existential and the resultative reading of the present perfect is correlated with the kind of predicate: telic predicate for the resultative readings and atelic predicate for the existential readings. Nevertheless, the corpus also contains tokens of telic predicates triggering an existential reading and atelic predicates triggering a resultative reading. The ambiguity is resolved by accounting for contextual information that constrains the interpretation of the present perfect in Catalan.
In the paper ''Epistemic modality and questions in dialogue. The case of Italian interrogative constructions in the subjunctive mood'' Andrea Rocci posits an analysis on interrogative construction 'che' + subjunctive in Italian. He targets three interesting questions and unfolds his argumentation to the following main points. First, that the meaning of the 'che' + subjunctive construction is not derivable compositionally. Second, the construction inherits properties of generic constructions such as yes/no questions and subjunctive constructions. Finally, that the meaning of the 'che' + subjunctive construction is associated both with restrictions on the common ground of the conversation and inferential discourse relations. This account serves as a 'case study' regarding the investigation of questions interacting with epistemic modality. However, at the same time, he introduces an elaboration of the Congruity Theory and to the notion of pragmatic predicates developed within this framework.
In the paper ''In the mood of desire and hope: remarks on the German subjunctive, the verb second phenomenon, the nature of volitional predicates and speculations on illocution'' Andrè Meinunger presents an analysis of the German subjunctive focusing on the nature of the volitional predicates and the role that illocution plays on the verb second (V2) phenomenon. He first discusses the kind of predicates licensing the V2 and continues in a detailed and thorough presentation of the relation that holds between volitional predicates and the V2 phenomenon in German. Finally, he takes on the role of assertion(ality) or assertivity plays on V2 in German. He argues against those proposals that accept assertion to play the crucial role and instead, he suggests that there is something weaker than assertion. Nevertheless, he maintains that the use of V2 has to do with an attitude of the speaker and not of a third individual.
In the article ''Dutch equivalents of the German past conjunctive: zou + infinitive and the modal preterit'' Linde Roels, Tanja Mortelmans and Johan van der Auwera make a comparison of the German 'würde' + infinitve and Dutch 'zou' + infinitive constructions used to express conjunctive. They give an overview of the contexts in which the 'modal' constructions appear and conclude that it is impossible to equate the German conjunctive with the Dutch 'zou' + infinitive. Furthermore, the German conjunctive cannot be equated with the Dutch (modal) preterit nor with the 'zou'-form. In German the conjunctive marker is obligatory present in irrealis and indirectness contexts. In contrast, Dutch relies more on the contextual information provided. Their arguments are based on a corpus survey.
In the article ''Slavic verb prefixes are resultative'', Boban Arsenijević takes on the status of Slavic verb prefixes. More specifically, verb prefixes in Slavic languages are related to the phenomenon of grammatical aspect (imperfective vs. perfective); for example, when a prefix is attached to an imperfective verb then the verbs becomes perfective. He develops an analysis in which all event-modifying prefixes in Slavic languages are resultative and rejects the Goal-Source Asymmetry at the aspectual level. Furthermore, he assumes that all those prefixes are agreement markers.
Sophia Delidaki in her paper ''The acquisition of aspect in child Greek: A production experiment'' addresses the question of ''Aspect before Tense Hypothesis'' (AFH) (Antinucci and Miller 1976, Bloom, Lifter & Hafitz 1980, Smith 1980 & 1991) in Greek and presents an experimental study about the acquisition of aspect in child Greek. Interestingly, in the experiment she tested both Greek children and adults illustrating the contrast in choice for tense and aspect. Based mainly on Bronckart & Sinclair's (1973) study of tense and aspect with French speaking children, she applies the research methods to Greek and comes up with an interesting conclusion. First, the predicate's lexical aspect (telic/atelic) influences the choice of both tense and grammatical aspect. Second, duration influences children's choice when the verb is atelic. Third, frequency seems to influence younger children in their choice of tense. Finally, the adult speakers of Greek present the same pattern that is characterized as the AFH in language acquisition. More precisely, adults combine perfective morphology and past tense with telic verbs and imperfective morphology and present tense with atelic verbs, as children do.
In the paper ''The Thai cla: a marker of tense or modality?'' Jiranthara Srioutai presents her analysis on the Thai marker 'cla' and proposes that this item should be analyzed as a modal marker rather than a temporal one. In a detailed analysis she points out the marker's epistemic and temporal properties pointing out it's optional presence in the structure. Following up on the conclusion of Rangkupan (2000) she updates the research by making clear the semantic contribution of 'cla' and illustrates a Discourse Representation Theory (see Kamp & Reyle 1993) analysis of the marker.
EVALUATION All in all, the present volume's papers are an excellent reference on tense, aspect and modality, and at the same time a valuable reader. The papers draw from three focal points: tense, aspect and mood. Nevertheless, they are not organized in a systematic fashion. As such, readers can choose to read articles associated with their specific interests: Papers by Vet, Nicolle, Le Draoulec & Bras, Curell & Coll and Shrioutai for tense; papers by Smessaert, Asnes and Delidaki for aspect; Rocci's and Meinunger's papers for mood. However, the asset of the volume's papers is the extension of research for tense, aspect and mood to other grammatical categories, for example, Asnes' paper for aspectual interactions between predicates, Le Draoulec & Bras' article for the temporal properties of Frech ''Alors'', the paper by Asic presenting the temporal reading of prepositions, the paper by Rocci showing an analysis on Italian interrogative construction ''che'', and, finally, the relation of subjunctive mood in German and the nature of volitional predicates.
In general, papers illustrate new hypotheses that have been put forward or they update old accounts. Each paper is well organized, ending with a summary and/or a conclusion, which makes it easy to read. In general, the volume's papers are rich with examples and/or data drawn from corpora thus making it a valuable and useful reference for linguists and/or graduate students. The in-depth analysis in each of the articles greatly advances our knowledge of tense, aspect and mood. To sum up, this volume is once again an inspiring collection of articles that will promote new ideas and advances in the Tense, Aspect and Modality domain of research.
REFERENCES Antinucci, F. and R. Miller (1976) How Children Talk about What Happened. _Journal of Child Language_ 3, 167-189.
Bloom, L., Lifter, K. and Hafitz, J. (1980) Semantics of Verbs and the Development of Verb Inflection in Child Language. _Language_ 56 (2), 386-412.
Bronckart, J.P. and Sinclair, H. (1973) Time, Tense and Aspect. _Cognition_ 2 (1), 107-130.
Kamp, H. and Reyle, U. (1993). _From Discourse to Logic_. Kluwer, Dordrecht.
Krifka, M. (1998). The origins of telicity. In S. Rothstein, ed., _Events and Grammar_. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Reichenbach, H. (1947) _Elements of Symbolic Logic_, MacMillan, New York.
Rangkupan, S. (2000) _Characteristics of Psychological Perspective in Thai Narrative Discourse_. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Buffalo, The State University of New York.
Smith, C. (1980) The Acquisition of Time Talk: Relations Between Child and Adult Grammars. _Journal of Child Language_ 7, 263-278.
Smith, C. (1991) _The Parameter of Aspect_. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER Eleni Staraki is a 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Linguistics, University of Chicago. Her field of research covers the tense-aspect properties of free relatives in Greek.