LINGUIST List 15.2883

Wed Oct 13 2004

Books: Typology/Historical Ling/Text/Corpus Ling: Zeisler

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        1.    Julia Ulrich, Relative Tense and Aspectual Values in Tibetan Languages: Zeisler

Message 1: Relative Tense and Aspectual Values in Tibetan Languages: Zeisler

Date: 11-Oct-2004
From: Julia Ulrich <>
Subject: Relative Tense and Aspectual Values in Tibetan Languages: Zeisler

Title: Relative Tense and Aspectual Values in Tibetan Languages
Subtitle: A Comparative Study
Series Title: Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs 150

Published: 2004
Publisher: Mouton de Gruyter

Book URL:

Author: Bettina Zeisler, University of Tübingen, Germany

Hardback: ISBN: 3110178680 Pages: xxvi, 986 Price: Europe EURO 148.00


This study presents a comparative approach to a universal theory of TENSE,
ASPECT and MOOD, combining the methods of comparative and historical
linguistics, fieldwork, text linguistics, and philology. The book is
arranged in four parts. Part I: The concepts of TENSE, ASPECT and MOOD;
Part II: The Tibetan system of RELATIVE TENSE and aspectual values, with
main sections on Old and Classical Tibetan, "Lhasa" Tibetan, and East
Tibetan (Amdo and Kham); Part III: West Tibetan (Ladakhi, Purik, Balti);
Part IV: The comparative view.

Discussing the similarities and differences of temporal and aspectual
concepts, the study rejects the general claim that ASPECT is a linguistic
universal and more basic than ABSOLUTE TENSE. Instead of changing the
traditional definition of ASPECT, a new linguistic concept, FRAMING, is
introduced in order to account for the aspect-like conceptualizations found
in, e.g., English. The concept of RELATIVE TENSE or taxis, i.e. the
temporal ordering of events in relation to a contextually given reference
point, may likewise not be universal, but the author argues that it is much
closer to the concept of ABSOLUTE TENSE and thus more likely to be its
evolutionary or developmental predecessor than ASPECT.

Among the Tibetan varieties, West Tibetan is unique in having fully
grammaticalized the concept of ABSOLUTE TENSE. West Tibetan is compared
diachronically with Old and Classical Tibetan (documented since the mid 8th
century) and synchronically with several contemporary Tibetan varieties.
The grammaticalized forms of each variety are described on the basis of
their employment in discourse. The underlying general function of the
Tibetan verbal system is thus shown to be that of RELATIVE TENSE. Secondary
aspectual functions are described for restricted contexts. A special focus
on the pragmatic or metaphorical use of present tense constructions in
Tibetan leads to a typology of narrative conventions. The last part also
offers some suggestions for the reconstruction of the Proto-Tibetan verb

Date of publication: June 2004

Bettina Zeisler is working in a research project at the University of
Tübingen, Germany.


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Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
                            Linguistic Theories
                            Text/Corpus Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Amdo (Language Code: ADX)
                            Balti (Language Code: BFT)
                            Purik (Language Code: BXR)
                            Ladakhi (Language Code: LBJ)
                            Tibetan (Language Code: TIC)
                            Old Tibetan (Language Code: OTB)
                            Classical Tibetan (Language Code: XCT)

Written In: English (Language Code: ENG )

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