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Summary Details

Query:   Surcomposé Tenses
Author:  Gerhard Schaden
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Morphology

Summary:   Regarding query:

This is the summary of the answers I received for my query on
Surcomposé Tenses.

My query had two subparts: first, I wanted to know in which languages there
are or were once some kind of surcomposé tenses, that is, tenses where an
already compound tense is `overauxiliated', like in

1) John has had eaten a cake.

I knew that such tenses exist (or existed) in French, Francoprovençal,
Occitan, Varieties of Northern Italian, Rhetoromance languages, German and
Yiddish (which I unfortunately forgot to mention in the query).

It was pointed out several times that many Slavic languages had or still
have some sort of double compound tenses, generally to express a kind of
pluperfect meaning. The languages cited were:

- Bulgarian
- Czech
- Polish
- Russian
- Serbo-Croatian
- Slovak

Among the Celtic languages, some dialects of Breton have a double compound
tense, which closely ressembles the Southern French Passé Surcomposé.

Among the Germanic languages (other than German and Yiddish), some Danish
dialects have developed a double compound perfect, which also behaves
somewhat like the Southern French ones.

There is also one Austronesian language spoken on the islands of Yap (and
called Yapese) which allows for doubled preverbal particles.

My second question concerned the existence of languages with doubled tense
inflexions, roughly something that would look like:

2) John work-ed-ed at home

Korean seems to show exactly the structure in (2): the past suffix ''-ass''
may be doubled to ''-ass-ass'' and produces something that works roughly
like a pluperfect.

It was pointed out that Awtuw, a language spoken in Papua New Guinea, had a
desiderative suffix ''-rere'' which looks like a duplication of the future
suffix ''-re'' (this is probably rather a doubled mood inflexion than a
`pure' tense inflexion).


The following books and articles where suggested for further reading:

Abraham, Werner; Conradie, C. Jac. 2001. Präteritumschwund und
Diskursgrammatik. John Benjamins.

Ballantyne, Keira. 2005. Textual Structure and Discourse Prominence in
Yapese Narrative. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Hawai'i.

Feldman, Harry. 1986. A Grammar of Awtuw. Canberra: Pacific

Hewitt, Steve. 2002. The Impersonal in Breton. Journal of Celtic Linguistics 7.

Litvinov, Victor; Radcenko, Vladimir (1998). Doppelte Perfektbildungen in
der deutschen Literatursprache. Tübingen: Stauffenburg.

Migdalski, Krzysztof. 2006. The Syntax of Compound Tenses in
Slavic. Doctoral Dissertation, Tillburg University.

Roth, Juliana. 1979. Die indirekton Erlebnisformen im
Bulgarischen. Eine Untersuchung zu ihrem Gebrauch in der
Umgangssprache. München: Otto Sagner.

Toops, Gary H. ''A Contrastive Survey of the German ''Konjunktiv'' and
Bulgarian ''preizkazno naklonenie''''. Balkanistica 6 (1999): 269-289.

Weigand, Gustav. 1907. Bulgarische Grammatik. Leipzig: J.A.

I was also told that Vladimir Plungian (University of Moscow) has worked on
this topic quite a lot.

Last but not least, Robert Binnicks bibliography on tense, aspect and
related areas provides a section on surcomposé tenses:


I would like to thank all the people who offered me help, took the time to
send me an answer and/or articles, and who were so kind to answer my
questions concerning their answers:

Werner Abraham, Keira Ballantyne, Loren Billings, Daniel Collins, An
Dong-hwan, Harry Feldman, Markus Giger, Sarah Harmon, Steve Hewitt, Dmitry
Idiatov, David Mandic, Krzysztof Migdalski, Robert Millar, Maj-Britt
Mosegard Hansen, Kate Paesani, Paula Radetzky, Mathieu Roy, and Gary Toops

I also would like to thank the person(s) I might have forgotten to mention

LL Issue: 17.812
Date Posted: 16-Mar-2006


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