David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Linguistics and Philosophy 34 (3):223-256 (2011)
We offer a formal account of the English past tenses. We see the perfect as having reference time at speech time and the preterite as having reference time at event time. We formalize four constraints on reference time, which we bundle together under the term ‘perspective’. Once these constraints are satisfied at the different reference times of the perfect and preterite, the contrasting functions of these tenses are explained. Thus we can account formally for the ‘definiteness effect’ and the ‘lifetime effect’ of the perfect, for the fact that the perfect seems to ‘explain’ something about the present, and that the perfect cannot presuppose a past time point. We explain why perfect and preterite can sometimes be interchangeable, and we offer a solution to the ’present perfect puzzle’. We explain the unacceptability of notorious examples of the perfect such as * Gutenberg has discovered the art of printing . We give greater definition to the familiar notions of ‘current relevance’ and ‘extended now’
|Keywords||Past tenses Perfect Preterite Reference time Lifetime effect Presuppositions Update|
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References found in this work BETA
Hans Reichenbach (1980). Elements of Symbolic Logic. Dover Publications.
Zeno Vendler (1967). Linguistics in Philosophy. Cornell University Press.
Barbara Hall Partee (1973). Some Structural Analogies Between Tenses and Pronouns in English. Journal of Philosophy 70 (18):601-609.
David R. Dowty (1977). Toward a Semantic Analysis of Verb Aspect and the English 'Imperfective' Progressive. Linguistics and Philosophy 1 (1):45 - 77.
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