[b-hebrew] Tenses and aspects; was: footnotes

Ken Penner pennerkm at mcmaster.ca
Tue Aug 9 09:39:01 EDT 2005


It might be helpful to determine whether the term "deictic centre" is 
being used in a consistent way in the discussion here.

It seems to me that Peter is calling "deictic centre" what Rolf calls 
the "reference point" or "reference time".

In my understanding, the deictic centre is normally at speech time, but 
can occasionally be moved, as sometimes happens in letter writing: "I 
have attached a document to this letter" or "I will attach a document to 
this letter" have different deictic centres, one at the time of writing, 
and one at the time of reading. Here I think Rolf is using the term in 
its usual meaning.

When speaking of relative tense, though, we are speaking of the 
relationship between a *reference time* and the time of the event.
It seems to me that Rolf calls any relationship between the reference 
time and the event time "aspect", and any relationship between the 
deictic centre (the time of the communication, which is normally the 
speech time) and the time of the event "tense". (Please correct me if I 
have misunderstood you.) Marion Johnson's work supports Rolf's usage 
here, but it has not yet become standard.

So Rolf has no need of the labels "absolute tense" and "relative tense"; 
these are simply "tense" and "aspect", respectively. Now, of course, 
there are different kinds of relationships between the event and the 
reference time (e.g. inclusion, precedence), so there would be 
correspondingly different kinds of aspects.

Have I captured your views accurately?

Ken Penner
McMaster/Hebrew



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