Temporality: Universals and Variation

Wiley-Blackwell (2014)
Abstract
This book surveys the ways in which languages of different types refer to past, present, and future events and how these referents are related to the knowledge and attitudes of discourse participants. The book is the culmination of fifteen years of research by the author. Four major language types are examined in-depth: tense-based English, tense-aspect-based Polish, aspect-based Chinese, and mood-based Kalaallisut. Each contributes to a series of logical representation languages, which together define a common logical language that is argued to underlie all language types. The four types differ in whether they choose to grammaticalize discourse reference to times (tense), events (aspect), and/or attitudes (mood), and how non-grammaticalized elements are inferred. The common logical language is a dynamic update logic, building on DRT and Centering Theory, but with a novel architecture—e.g. the distinction between focal vs. peripheral attention plays a key role, parallel to focal vs. peripheral vision.
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