The perfectivization of the English perfect

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This paper assesses the degree to which the HAVE-perfect in English can truly be thought of as a paradigmatic case of grammaticalization, as has at times been proposed in the literature. By examining the existing scholarship on two proposed recent developments of the HAVE-perfect, its claimed emerging compatibility with definite past time adverbials and its use as a perfective tense to narrate sequences of past-time events, and by proposing new data, the paper demonstrates that it is by no means clear that either of these phenomena are truly emergent, and therefore urges caution in the rush to see grammaticalization afoot. The paper goes on to call for greater caution in theorizing how grammaticalization affects languages, such as English, which are pluricentral and wherein related phenomena may occasionally travel along two clines facing opposite directions.


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