the English perfect. (Was Re: maz-zot `asita)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Wed Aug 4 07:29:27 EDT 1999

Dear Peter,

Forgive this interjection. It's summer!

>To say as you do that X-QATAL is not verb first is simply tautologous! 
>On my theory this is a marked form giving prominence to the subject, 
>and to the state it is in as a result of the past action of the verb, 
>i.e. I see X-QATAL as corresponding roughly to the English perfect. 

To give yours truly's understanding of the English perfect, the aspect
deals specifically with events/situations prior to the deictic point of

This of course means that one has to establish the deictic reference,
though with the present this is understood. Yet, once the deictic reference
is shifted to the time implied by the perfect, it is no longer appropriate
to use the perfect, because, naturally you want to talk about the deictic
reference point, not before it.

Hence you find the progress in English from the present perfect to the past, 

   I've just come back from the Bahamas. It was awful hot.

from the past to the past perfect and then once again to the past (after
all the reference point is in the past and you're then talking about that
point in time), 

   I was down in the dumps at that time. My wife had left me. She just
   packed her bags and went and joined the circus.

and from a future to a future perfect (though the future perfect is rarely
used for establishing a deictic point)

   Next year I'm going to Iceland. I will have bought a fishing boat
   by then. 

Hopefully the prior nature of the perfect is clear. The perfect has nothing
in itself to do with the completeness of an action -- the simple English
verb deals with a complete action -- for it can be combined with the

   How come your clothes are torn? I've been searching for the
   dog out in the woods.

You say that you "see the X-QATAL as corresponding roughly to the English
perfect". Is my interpretation roughly that English perfect you were
referring to? If not, what exactly is the content of your use of the term?

>This of course nicely fits your Jonah example: "What have you done 
>[which has these present consequences]?" Or perhaps X-QATAL can be 
>considered analogous to a non-verbal sentence with a past (active) 
>participle: "X is having-QTL'ed", which goes somewhat towards Bryan's 
>idea of QATAL as stative.

Is "stative" really grammatical as the above seems to imply or is it more a
semantic or morphological notion?



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