Time with and without tense
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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How is temporal information conveyed in language? In languages with tense it is direct; without tense, inference allows the receiver to arrive at an indirect temporal interpretation. I will discuss tensed and tenseless languages, proposing a unified approach that applies to both. I show that a few very general pragmatic principles account for temporal interpretation, direct and indirect.1 I assume that understanding a sentence requires that the receiver locate an event or state, spatially and temporally: time is one of the basic coordinates for truth conditional assessment. Sentences in all languages convey information that allows us to determine the temporal location of the situation expressed. One would like to understand how this happens. The pragmatic principles that I suggest constrain direct temporal interpretation and guide indirect. In languages with tense, tense gives direct temporal information; however certain apparent possibilities do not arise, due to the pragmatic constraints. In languages without tense, inference allows temporal interpretation. The key point in such languages..
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