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Some days ago, I posted a query asking for studies on grammatical devices
that signal that a past situation is not relevant to the speech situation,
a meaning that, I thought, could be called 'Anti-Perfect' (AP). Dmitry
Gerasimov, Timur Maisak, Mark A. Mandel, Martin Mangei, Chad Douglas Nilep,
Jurgis Pakeris, Marina Sherkina-Liebe, Dorota Sikora, and Rudy Troike gave
valuable responses to my query, and I'm obliged to them for that.
The most cited work in the responses is A. V. Plungian & J. van der Auwera
(2006), ''Towards a typology of discontinuous past marking,"
Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung, 59, 4, 317-349. Discontinuous
past (DP) seems to cover the type of meaning I've called AP.
Some contributors proposed that Pluperfect, Remote or 'Mythical' past can
be thought as a kind of AP; an idea compatible with DP. One linguist
proposed that AP can be related to Irrealis. Though Irrealis is not an
aspect but a modality or mood, interestingly it includes both hypothetical
and counter-factual meanings, which are also found in DP.
Some contributors exemplified the putative AP meaning with constructions in
English: ''He was to speak yesterday, but became ill and couldn't come''
In conclusion, there is a grammatical device that covers what I've called
AP: DP. Nevertheless, I'm not sure that this is really a past tense. It
seems to be a kind of Retrospective Aspect, in the sense of Dik (1997). I
thought it could be called AP because its uses are the opposites of those
that, after MacCawley (1971), have been associated with Perfect. Anyway,
schematically, so called AP (or DP) and Perfects share the same basic
Retrospective meaning. Of course, it is not an easy (or even profitable)
task to make a strict distinction in Tense-Aspect-Mood categories.
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