Tense, mood, and centering

Natural languages exhibit a great variety of grammatical paradigms. For instance, in English verbs are grammatically marked for tense, whereas in the tenseless Eskimo-Aleut language Kalaallisut they are marked for illocutionary mood. Although time is a universal dimension of the human experience and speaking is part of that experience, some languages encode reference to time without any grammatical tense morphology, or reference to speech acts without any illocutionary mood morphology. Nevertheless, different grammatical systems are semantically parallel in certain respects. Specifically, I propose that English tenses form a temporal centering system, which monitors and updates topic times, whereas Kalaallisut moods form a modal centering system, which monitors and updates modal discourse referents. To formalize these centering parallels I define a dynamic logic that represents not only changing information but also changing focus of attention in discourse (Update with Centering, formalizing Grosz et al 1995). Different languages can be translated into this typed logic by directly compositional universal rules of Combinatory Categorial Grammar (CCG) The resulting centering theory of tense and illocutionary mood draws semantic parallels across different grammatical systems. The centering generalizations span the extremes of the typological spectrum, so they are likely to be universal. In addition, the theory accounts for the translation equivalence of tense and illocutionary mood in a given utterance context. Following Stalnaker (1978) I assume that the very act of speaking up has a ‘commonplace effect’ on the context. It focuses attention on the speech act and thereby introduces default modal and temporal topics. These universal defaults complement language-specific grammars, e.g. English tenses and Kalaallisut moods. In a given utterance context the universal discourse-initial defaults plus language-specific grammatical marking may add up to the same truth conditions..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Download options
Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

254 ( #13,380 of 2,168,630 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

13 ( #25,599 of 2,168,630 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums