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Reference, aspectuality and modality in ante-preterit (pluperfect) in Romance languages

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Abstract

The ante-preterit or pluperfect is mostly considered to be an uncontroversial tense used to describe an event that took place before another event in the past. This is only partly true and a more complex image of ante-preterit will be presented. In this article ante-preterit stands for the tense and its syntactical functions, while the notion pluperfect is restricted to the morphological forms whether they are analytic (It. avevo parlato ‘/I/ had spoken’) or synthetic (Lat. amaveram ‘I had loved’) thus differentiating function from form in order to facilitate the discussion. Typologically we can see many resemblances between the Romance languages. In order to see how general these developments might be comparisons have been made with Greek, Slavic languages and other, mainly European, languages in Section 2. Almost all Romance languages have developed at least one analytic pluperfect, and most have lost the Latn synthetic pluperfect. It will become clear that the idea of ante-preterit as some kind of past-imperfect (static and processual events) is not entirely true since ante-preterit is also used for perfective actions, and that it does not necessarily have to be seen in relation to another past tense. It can also be used to express resultativity with reference to the moment of enunciation, and, furthermore, it has modal functions that can be summarized in the two concepts of change of referential world and enhancement of modifying illocutionary force.

References

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