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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:54 pm 
Niš
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One new project I’m doing is the modification of English to make it simpler (which I did nicely... except for spelling, unambiguity required that) for those who haven’t seen it, and to make English less ambiguous- I know it’s not entirely ambiguous, but still.

One thing I’m pondering doing is adding a future tense. Would doing that make it... too un-English? Just asking.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:18 pm 
Sumerul
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Universeal12 wrote:
One thing I’m pondering doing is adding a future tense.

English already has two future tenses, so do you mean a synthetic future tense?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:22 am 
Niš
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KathTheDragon wrote:
Universeal12 wrote:
One thing I’m pondering doing is adding a future tense.

English already has two future tenses, so do you mean a synthetic future tense?


Yes, I do mean a synthetic future tense. You made me do some research there, that’s a new term for me. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:26 pm 
Sanno
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KathTheDragon wrote:
Universeal12 wrote:
One thing I’m pondering doing is adding a future tense.

English already has two future tenses, so do you mean a synthetic future tense?


I'm really not sure that English does already have a future tense, let alone two.

But I also don't see why adding an additional morphological tense would make the language 'simpler' or 'less ambiguous'.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:10 pm 
Avisaru
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Salmoneus wrote:
I'm really not sure that English does already have a future tense, let alone two.


I will debate you on that in a moment.

I'm going to find a good example.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:02 pm 
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Axiem wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
I'm really not sure that English does already have a future tense, let alone two.


I will debate you on that in a moment.

I'm going to find a good example.


Except that you seem to have disproven your thesis in the process!

Obviously, English has ways to talk about things that happen in the future - all languages do. But for talk of a "future tense" to be meaningful, there needs to be some specific construction typically used in this situations, primarily associated with tense.

Is the difference between "I'll find a good example" and "I'm going to find a good example" really a difference in tense? Is there really even a clear aspectual or modal distinction encoded by will vs going to that applies across most situations? And then bear in mind that these are not the only ways of discussing the future. There's also the present tense with adverbial indications of time. There's also "shall". Other modals, like "could", "would" and "should" are often used to discuss the future too. Then there's "about to", "haven't yet", "am to" ("I'm to go to Paris tomorrow"). I'm sure you can think of others as well.

Then there's the problem that neither "will" nor "going to" is always used only for future events. Is "Oh, knowing him he'll be in the bar by now!" a future-tense construction? Nor, for that matter, is "I'll say!" making a claim about the future (you ARE saying).

So either:
- we pick one construction and call it the 'future tense' and then pretend the others don't exist
- we say there's lots and lots of future tenses
- we say there's one future tense with complete suppletion to show mood and aspect distinctions (some of which seem erratic or minimal).
- or we just admit that English isn't Latin, it doesn't have a future tense, but it does have a rich inventory of modal and aspectual (and pragmatic) constructions, some of which frequently have temporal implications, but not in such an organised way that a single specific "future tense" can clearly be identified.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:18 pm 
Smeric
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But then by that logic, doesn't that mean English doesn't have a past tense or a present tense, either?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:23 am 
Sumerul
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Quote:
we just admit that English isn't Latin, it doesn't have a future tense, but it does have a rich inventory of modal and aspectual (and pragmatic) constructions, some of which frequently have temporal implications, but not in such an organised way that a single specific "future tense" can clearly be identified.

That's a frequently held position among contemporary linguists. But I don't think that it's the only good one. It has some in-built assumptions:
1) A future tense is only a future tense when it doesn't have any other, non-temporal uses.
2) a) There can be only one future tense / b) a future tense must be the only means of referring to future events.
3) (This one is not implied in what you say, but it's additionally held by some linguists that deny English has a future tense, like Pullum:) The future tense must be expressed by the same kind of morphological operation like the other tenses; in this case, because the past tense is expressed synthetically, while (what is called by school grammars) the future tense is expressed by an auxiliary construction that resembles modal construction, the English "future tense" is actually a mood.

Against 1), I would hold that many grammatical forms have several uses, and that it is sufficient if the future reference is the main use, which would need to be checked on a corpus; i.e. it's not sufficient to enumerate 10 other usages, if they account only for a minority of incidences of use or are limited to a small group of fixed expressions (like "I'll say").
Re 2 a), there is no reason to see why the space of future events can't be subdivided by additional criteria, like nearness, likeliness, subjective or objective certainty, etc. Some languages distinguish past tenses by evidentiality or aspect; would you say that, therefore, they don't have a past tense?
Re 2 b), I'd say it's sufficient if a formation is grammaticalized for expressing future events and its original sematics are sufficiently bleached - "I go tomorrow" is not a future tense because "tomorrow" indicates the future reference by it's unbleached semantics referring to a concrete point in the future, but "it will rain" doesn't imply will any more and "he's going to cry" doesn't imply the subject's walking / movement and, crucially they work without an express marker of time. So both can be future tenses in my book.
Re 3), it's simply so that suffixing and ablaut are retreating as productive means of forming new categories in English, and secondly future tenses in many languages tend to be based on originally modal constructions, so the fact that the English will-future looks like a modal construction tells you something about its history, but is not decisive for deciding on what its main function is in contemporary English.

Mind you, I'm not insisting that English has a (several) formal future tense(s), but I'd like to see it proven or disproven on a corpus investigation.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:56 am 
Sanno
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Vijay wrote:
But then by that logic, doesn't that mean English doesn't have a past tense or a present tense, either?

...no? Why?

The past tense is indicated systematically: an -ed suffix (though some irregulars have vowel changes or suppletion). It's present in virtually all past-tense sentences, with the exception of the relatively rare narrative past, in which the present tense is used for past events when narrating a story in which the audience is to imagine it occuring in the present, which is a common exception cross-linguistically I believe.

It's true there's also the perfect, but that's a perfect, and it is orthogonal to tense (you can combine it with other tense constructions). So it's best seen as an aspect, in English, I think. Notably, the perfect relates to the time after the event, not to the time of the event itself, so the ordinary perfect is a present perfect. [You can see this in constructions like the Chandleresque "I had just poured myself another whiskey, when a dame walked in"/"I had already eaten the mongoose, when its owner walked it" - the "when" clause does not refer to the time when you're pouring or eating, but to the time after these are finished (ie the single past, not the double past).]

In fact, that's another good indication that "going to" is not a future tense: it can be put in the past. "I was going to/I am going to/I will be going to" ("I'm going to be going to, I shall be going to, I'm about to be going to", etc). It doesn't really make sense to pick out the middle of those three as a "future tense" that just happens to look and act exactly like the other two that aren't tenses...

Note also that "going to" can refer to things that are planned but do not occur. A genuine future, or even posterior, tense should be equivalent to a present tense modified by temporal adverbs (conceptually, I mean, even in languages that don't allow that as a valid construction). So, "Tomorrow, I leave" and "I will leave tomorow" are equivalent (in terms of when and what they are describing, ignoring other nuances of pragmatics). Likewise, "I left the next day" is conceptually a posterior tense expression (while not being a dedicated posterior tense construction in English) - it indicates a past event occuring specifically at a later time than the previous deictic centre. But "I was going to leave the next day" does not move the story to a late time - it's really making a statement about the same timeframe, and doesn't actually imply that the event it describes ever actually went on to take place! [indeed, "went on to" seems like a better candidate for a past posterior tense, though I don't think it is]. Indeed, "I was going to leave..." practically begs for a "but"!

Also note the difficulty that "going to" has with failures of relevence. Consider: ?"When I eat the cat tomorrow, Antarctica is going to be cold". This seems a really weird sentence to me. I would definitely prefer "When I eat the cat tomorrow, Antarctica will be cold". The "going to" construction to me specifically implies that the first clause is relevent to the second ("When I see you, I'm going kill you" - even something relatively benign like ?"When it's daylight, I'm going to kill you" sounds really odd to me. (as opposed to "when it's daylight I'll kill you"). As with most things relating to relevence, this doesn't produce outright ungrammatical sentences, because 'relevence' is subjective and contextual, but I think there's a clear dispreference for "going to" in irrelevent combinations (?"When the stars go out, I'm going to be dead", compared with the much more comfortable "When the stars go out, I'll be dead"), which further suggests that it is not really a tense.

"Going to" also, to me, doesn't feel as natural with states, and temporal adverbs - "If you keep drinking, your glass is going to be empty soon" feels much less natural to me than "your glass'll be empty soon". "His desk is going to be empty by the end of the day"; "by then, the mountains are going to be shorter".

So to me, it looks as though "going to" is more of a "conceptive mood" - indicating events that the speaker currently conceives of, plans, projects. There's often (though not always) an implication of control - "the mountains are going to be shorter" is fine as something Slartibartfast says when designing planets, but "the mountains will be shorter" is what you expect a scientific observer to say! [it's also used for things you don't control, but that are, as it were, included in as a background condition for your own project: so "the door's going to be unlocked" is what you say when you're explaining your plan to rob a bank...]

Whereas "will" looks more like a mood used variously for predictions, deductions and commitments.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:15 am 
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Would you mind offering as detailed an analysis of why "will" should be a mood rather than a tense as what you gave for "is going to"? A simple "it looks like one" is hardly satisfying.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:12 pm 
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i think the only thing that can be meant when we say that a language has or hasn't a feature is whether or not it encodes it in grammar: obviously all languages have all tenses in a broad sense that in any language, you can say that you're going to buy a vape, that you bought a vape, that you'd have bought a vape, that you will have started to buy a vape, that you might be able to consider having had bought a vape, and so on. so basically, what sal said: english has auxiliary verbs that encode temporal information, and some are way more common than others, but i'm not sure that saying ' i am going to buy a vape ' is essentially different from ' i just came back from buying a vape ', and no one would say ' just came back from ' is a tense (i think).

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:37 pm 
Smeric
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Salmoneus wrote:
The past tense is indicated systematically: an -ed suffix (though some irregulars have vowel changes or suppletion).

Except it can be used even for things that are happening now.

(Someone leaves your house)
"Where'd he go?"
"He went to the bar." (even though he's still on his way there)

Or for things that could happen later:

"What do you think he'd do if he had a million dollars?"
"Well, for one thing, he would've said he got it through perfectly legitimate means..."
(He doesn't have/didn't get a million dollars yet).


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:10 pm 
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Vijay wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
The past tense is indicated systematically: an -ed suffix (though some irregulars have vowel changes or suppletion).

Except it can be used even for things that are happening now.

(Someone leaves your house)
"Where'd he go?"
"He went to the bar." (even though he's still on his way there)

Because "to go" usually doesn't refer to the whole course of the motion, but to the departure. If I say "he went to Africa", not only might he still be travelling, but he might even have died en route and never reached Africa. Indeed, to use it to refer to the motion itself ("he went through the streets") is quite literary and old-fashioned (except in the case of motion divided into many arrivals and departures, like "going from door to door", "going along the line" (i.e. stopping at each thing/person), etc).
[Note also that one would virtually never say "He went to the bar" when one actually knew that he hadn't reached it - one doesn't say "look, over there, he went to the bar!" to point out someone still making their way through the crowd.]

Of course, as in any language, past tense utterances can be used to imply present tense facts - like "He went to the bar" to imply "and thus he is not here, but will be back later with drinks". But that's not a grammatical issue.
Quote:
Or for things that could happen later:

"What do you think he'd do if he had a million dollars?"
"Well, for one thing, he would've said he got it through perfectly legitimate means..."
(He doesn't have/didn't get a million dollars yet).

This is so ungrammatical I don't even know what it's meant to mean. I'm also not sure where the past tense is here, exactly ('would', like the other past tense modals, can also be used as a present tense modal with its own meaning - likewise, saying "I could murder a curry" is not a grammatically past tense utterance, despite 'could' in other circumstances being a past tense form of 'can'. Since I don't understand what you're trying to say, I'm not sure whether 'would' is the past tense of 'will' here, but it seems unlikely, since it almost never is).

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:18 pm 
Smeric
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Would you be happier if I changed it to "well, for one thing, he'd say he got a million dollars through perfectly legitimate means..."?
Salmoneus wrote:
Vijay wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
The past tense is indicated systematically: an -ed suffix (though some irregulars have vowel changes or suppletion).

Except it can be used even for things that are happening now.

(Someone leaves your house)
"Where'd he go?"
"He went to the bar." (even though he's still on his way there)

Because "to go" usually doesn't refer to the whole course of the motion, but to the departure.

Except this could happen in the exact same situation, too:

"Where's he going?"
"He's going to the bar."
Quote:
Note also that one would virtually never say "He went to the bar" when one actually knew that he hadn't reached it

Quote:
This is so ungrammatical I don't even know what it's meant to mean.

All of this may be the case in your variety of English. It's not in mine. In mine, it makes perfect sense to say that someone "went to the bar" even if they literally just left and the bar in question is nowhere in the vicinity, and mixing up tense forms is very common. But then for that matter, "he'll be at the bar now" sounds markedly (though not uniquely) British to me, not like something people here would normally say.
Quote:
I'm also not sure where the past tense is here, exactly

"Got" is just as much of a past tense form as "went," "prepared," etc. are.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:26 pm 
Sanno
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Vijay wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
Because "to go" usually doesn't refer to the whole course of the motion, but to the departure.
Except this could happen in the exact same situation, too:

"Where's he going?"
"He's going to the bar."

Yes, and...?

Note, though, that you could also use this expression before "he" leaves and even in a situation in which "he" never ends up leaving at all.
Vijay wrote:
Note also that one would virtually never say "He went to the bar" when one actually knew that he hadn't reached it

And you wouldn't say "He's going to the bar" when you knew he wasn't going to leave after all, but that doesn't change the fact that the utterance does get used in this sort of situation.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:27 pm 
Sanno
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KathTheDragon wrote:
Would you mind offering as detailed an analysis of why "will" should be a mood rather than a tense as what you gave for "is going to"? A simple "it looks like one" is hardly satisfying.


Well, "will" is a more plausible candidate. But my attitude would be: show that it is a future tense!

So far as I can see, the "future tense" should be a construction that at minimum is:
a) the most common way to refer to events in the future (or at least, the most common marked way, allowing that some languages may have a default tense when tense is not salient);
b) most commonly be used to refer to events in the future;
c) be relatively bleached of non-temporal semantics;
d) not be better explained as something else.

So far as I can see, none of that looks great for "will":
- it probably isn't the most common marked way to refer to events in the future. I obviously don't have statistics, but I think that a study of modern spoken English would have "going to" ahead of "will", and certainly if you add up all the alternatives I think "will" would have less than a plurality.

- I'm not sure it's even usually used for future events. It's certainly widely used for non-future events. Add up all the conditionals, deductions, capabilitives, habituals and gnomics, "future perfects" that actually have present reference, and certainly if you include the negative forms ("won't" is very commonly used not just for the lack of a capability but also for refusals) I suspect they'll outnumber the "future tense" uses. [oh look, I just used a non-future "will". well, that one's ambiguous, because I suppose you COULD physically add them up and see what they came to, in the future, but the normal reading I think is that I'm actually making a present-tense claim about a conditional that is true right now]

- I don't think it's necessarily a neutral future either. Other future constructions are used outside of its core modal functions, making me think it's basically a modal rather than a temporal. While other constructions can be replaced by "will", I don't feel that that's always a more neutral construction. For instance, I don't see "you will do as I say" as a more modally neutral alternative to "you are going to do as I say".

- I think "will" can be better explained as, let's say, a modal of deductive force: a modal that indicates that something is logically true (where relevent, by deduction from stated premises or conditions), and which can therefore also be used to add epistemological weight to a claim, but which is largely without personal commitments per se. This interpretation, it seems to me, explains a wide range of cases where it's used:
..."The cat, as cats will, sat on the mat" [from known facts about cats, their sitting on mats appears inevitable]
..."Peace will come" [from what we know about the world, peace must come; it appears inevitable]
..."This will sting a little" [from what I know about this, I'm afraid it seems inevitable]
..."Boys will be boys" [it is inherent in boys that they are boys]
..."Every few weeks, they'll send over some shells, and we'll fire back, but otherwise it's quiet" [it appears unavoidable that this is how things are, even if nobody actually wants it to be this way]
..."If you build a barn, the rats will come" [that's just how things work]
..."If I know Bob, he'll be at the bar" [that's just what Bob's like]
..."Ahh, Dougall! You'll have had your tea?" [I'm assuming that, because that seems likely from what I know about your eating habits]
..."By now, the rabbits will have eaten their way through the wire" [that's just the logical deduction from the known facts]
..."As soon as he entered the building this morning, he'll have been searched for contraband" [that's not special info I've got, that's just what we can assume from what we know]
..."Oh, you will keep asking about that every time, won't you? *sigh*" [apparently this is just something I'm going to have to accept!]
..."You WILL do as I say" [you will find it impossible to disobey! Believe me, honestly, it's impossible! (usually only said to children and the gullible, of course!)]
..."Finally, a shoe that will fit!" [I have seen the evidence with my own eyes!] NB has both future (based on calculation) and non-future (based on observation of putting the shoe on) readings, the latter being more common
..."Will this pass the corner? Oh no, it won't" [does it seem deductively likely? No, I now know it to be false, on account of further observations]
..."Henry won't eat his vegetables" [believe us, we've tested that every way we can think of, and we reluctantly conclude that it is true]
..."The mountain will be shorter in a million years" [science tells us so!]
...etc

Now, some of these are also future tense events, but only some. Some are present, some past, some tense-neutral. So the 'future tense' analysis only explains some of them. But my interpretation, or something along similar lines, broadly seems to explain all of them. And it also helps explain when it ISN'T used. For instance, take some of the future tenses there and use "going to" instead:
..."the mountain is going to be shorter in a million years" [says the planetary engineer in charge of long-term orogeny]
..."Henry is going to not eat his vegetables" [don't worry, he'll co-operate with our cunning scheme!]
..."you are going to do as I say" [says the hypnotist]

Or:
..."the mountain shall be shorter in a million years" [yes, oh Divine One!]
..."Henry shall not eat his vegetable" [as you command!]
..."you shall do as I say!" [who made you the boss?]

etc.

I'm not saying the "future tense" theory looks untenable... just that it doesn't seem the best explanation, unless we assume that it must be true for Reasons to begin with.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:37 pm 
Smeric
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All I'm going to say at this point is that I have no idea where you got the idea that the criteria for being a "future tense" were so strict.
linguoboy wrote:
Vijay wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
Because "to go" usually doesn't refer to the whole course of the motion, but to the departure.
Except this could happen in the exact same situation, too:

"Where's he going?"
"He's going to the bar."

Yes, and...?

Note, though, that you could also use this expression before "he" leaves and even in a situation in which "he" never ends up leaving at all.

So it doesn't have to refer specifically to someone leaving.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:56 pm 
Sanno
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Vijay wrote:
All I'm going to say at this point is that I have no idea where you got the idea that the criteria for being a "future tense" were so strict.

Are they really more strict than the criteria we use to determine whether something is a "past tense"?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:59 pm 
Smeric
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linguoboy wrote:
Vijay wrote:
All I'm going to say at this point is that I have no idea where you got the idea that the criteria for being a "future tense" were so strict.

Are they really more strict than the criteria we use to determine whether something is a "past tense"?

Why? What kind of criteria would you use to determine whether something is a past tense? Is it not enough that a tense distinction exists and one tense is consistently used for expressing past tense?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:20 pm 
Sanno
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Vijay wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Vijay wrote:
All I'm going to say at this point is that I have no idea where you got the idea that the criteria for being a "future tense" were so strict.

Are they really more strict than the criteria we use to determine whether something is a "past tense"?

Why? What kind of criteria would you use to determine whether something is a past tense?

That's my question...

Vijay wrote:
Is it not enough that a tense distinction exists and one tense is consistently used for expressing past tense?

...and this is begging it.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:29 pm 
Smeric
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So when you said "the criteria we use," you really meant "the criteria you use"?

And you're saying that something can't be called a past tense unless it's:

a) the most common way to refer to events in the past (or at least, the most common marked way, allowing that some languages may have a default tense when tense is not salient),
b) most commonly used to refer to events in the past,
c) relatively bleached of non-temporal semantics, and
d) not better explained as something else?

I mean, how often is (a) even measured for languages anyway?

I don't agree that the definition of either "future tense" or "past tense" is quite so rigid. I think if there's one construction that's most frequently used for referring to what happened before the moment an utterance that uses it is produced and another that's most frequently used for referring to what will happen after the moment an utterance that uses it is produced, then calling the first a "past tense" and the second a "future tense" makes sense.


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