RandallButh wrote:1. a 'tense' is a linguistic categorary that can encompasses both aspectual and temporal reference.
Maybe 100 years ago, but it isn't any longer standard usage.
Well... it's not so clear just what is standard usage. I just so happen to be reading something from 2012 that uses tense
in the sense of Randall Buth above. The citation is Pier Marco Bertinetto, "Tense-aspect acquisition meets typology," Cahiers Chronos
25 (2012): 45-68.
Here's how Bertinetto, no marginal player in modern research into aspectuality, argues for his terminology:
Bertinetto 2012:45-46 wrote:1. A matter of clarification
Throughout this paper, the semantic domain under scrutiny will be designated by the acronym ATAM (i.e., Actionality / Temporality / Aspect / Modality). This involves a modification of the usual practice, in which TAM (or TMA) is routinely used. As will soon become clear, however, the Actionality category cannot be neglected, considering its role in the semantics and acquisition of tense and aspect phenomena.
Note also – as the spelling-out of the above acronym suggests – that the term ‘temporality’, rather than ‘tense’, is used here. This is not a mere terminological expedient, as it points to an important conceptual issue. The term ‘tense’ is best constrained to the morphosyntactic categories observed in the grammar of individual languages, rather than used to refer to the semantic / cognitive domain of temporality. Consider for instance the Romance Imperfect : in its prototypical uses, this tense conveys the aspectual value ‘imperfectivity’ and the temporal value ‘past’. It thus conveys both aspectual and temporal information. Consequently, it is confusing to use the word ‘tense’ to indicate both a particular grammatical category (in this example, the Imperfect) and the temporality domain at large. Furthermore, the Romance Imperfect is no exception. Any tense conveys both aspectual and temporal information, even though one of the two (or both) may be underdetermined. The German Preterite, for instance, conveys the temporal value ‘past’, but is aspectually underdetermined as it neutralizes the values ‘perfective’ and ‘imperfective’. Yet, in most cases, the language user may assign the relevant aspectual interpretation to the German Preterite by exploiting the appropriate contextual cues (Bertinetto 2008). Indeed, all the relevant semantic dimensions (actionality, temporality, aspect and mood) are necessarily detectable in each predicative utterance, although some oppositions may be neutralized, either due to lack of explicitness in the given language, or to occasional contextual factors. Therefore, this paper systematically distinguishes between ‘tense’ and ‘temporality’.
The basic problem is that tense
has been used to refer to both a morphosyntactic category and to a semantic notion. Those wishing to distinguish them generally propose a synonym such as temporality
and then assign one term to the morphosyntactic category and the other to the semantic notion. Unfortunately, there seems to be no coordination among researchers and sometimes inconsistent terminologies get used.
An advantage of Bertinetto's terminology is that the morphosyntactic categories of Greek have already been named "tenses", going all the back to the χρόνοι of Dionysius Thrax (pseudo or otherwise), so one can retain a certain terminological continuity within the Greek grammatical tradition that is not completely at odds with those working in aspectology, esp. of Romance. A disadvantage is that his terminology tends to obscure the fact that aspect too relates to time (or temporality sensu lato
), though in a different way than the Germanic tenses.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala