Presentation on theme: "Issues in grammatical terminology: the verb Nigel Vincent The University of Manchester."— Presentation transcript:
Issues in grammatical terminology: the verb Nigel Vincent The University of Manchester
Topics form vs meaning tense aspect mood and modality subjunctivitis finiteness
Form vs meaning what do labels like PAST and PRESENT classify? labels for verbal paradigms Danish er vs English am, is, are compositionality conditional = FUTURE + PAST the slippage from form to meaning the historic present I was wondering if I could have a cup of coffee
Tense traditional terminology distinguishes PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE BUT too simplistic to deal with any language need to distinguish at least relative and absolute tense some languages may be missing one tense – does English have a future tense? some languages may (appear to) lack tense altogether – e.g. Chinese and cf Matthewson (2006) on Lilloets Salish tense may contribute to modality: PAST vs REMOTE
Aspect doesn’t even figure in the Draft Curriculum no clear agreement on terminology progressive, continuous, iterative often expressed periphrastically hence raises the question of compositionality
Mood and modality The main modal verbs are will, would, can, could, may, might, shall, should, must and ought. A modal verb only has finite forms and has no suffix -s in the present tense even when its subject is singular. They are important for expressing degrees of certainty, or ability and obligation. (Draft Curriculum) Weak modality = Strong modality + counterfactual Counterfactual = Future + Past (von Fintel & Iatridou 2008) French il doit ‘he must’ vs il devrait ‘he ought’ devrait
"name": "Mood and modality The main modal verbs are will, would, can, could, may, might, shall, should, must and ought.",
"description": "A modal verb only has finite forms and has no suffix -s in the present tense even when its subject is singular. They are important for expressing degrees of certainty, or ability and obligation. (Draft Curriculum) Weak modality = Strong modality + counterfactual Counterfactual = Future + Past (von Fintel & Iatridou 2008) French il doit ‘he must’ vs il devrait ‘he ought’ devrait
Subjunctives ‘The subjunctive form of a verb is occasionally used in very formal contexts to indicate unreality, uncertainty, wish, emotion, judgement, or necessity. Its inflection is complicated, because it does not always differ from nonsubjunctive forms.’ (Draft Curriculum) ‘What an unbelievable piece of outright burbling nonsense.’ (Geoff Pullum, Language Log, 27/6/12) This is subjunctivitis in its classic form: people gabbling away about 'unreality' and 'uncertainty' and...'necessity'. We might ask: what kind of category can it be if it expresses both 'uncertainty' and 'necessity'???? (Michael Rosen blog, 13/6/12)
But … contra Pullum: in many languages the subjunctive does occur after verbs expressing emotion, doubt, fear, hope, expectation, etc. contra Rosen: modals cover the whole range of necessity and possibility so it’s hardly surprising if there is a single verb form appropriate to such modalised contexts
And yet … Even languages with a fully functioning subjunctive show differences in distribution: Italian credo che venga (SUBJ) stasera ‘I think he is coming this evening’ voglio che venga (SUBJ) stasera ‘I want him to come this evening’ French je crois qu’il vient (IND) ce soir je veux qu’il vienne (SUBJ) ce soir And the distribution of subjunctive can change over time.
Finite vs non-finite infinitives Eng (to) eat vs Fr manger vs Dan spise ‘bare’ form of the verb participles Latin Presentamans ‘loving’ Past amatus‘having been loved’ Futureamaturus‘about to love’ gerund(ive)s
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