The feature of tense at the interface of morphology and semantics

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In this paper I discuss the properties of tense as a grammatical feature, understood as a set of values and the methods of their realization on linguistic elements. I outline the criteria for recognizing various featural dependencies: agreement, government, and different types of multirepresentation of a feature value in a domain. I examine more closely three instances of tense-aspect-mood-polarity (TAMP) marking which have been put forward as candidates for agreement in tense: multirepresentation of TAMP in a verbal group/complex; multirepresentation of TAMP among elements bearing verbalizing case in Kayardild; and the modal cases of Kayardild which participate in TAMP marking. I argue that none of these arise as a result of syntactic agreement or government, but are due to the choice of a particular (semantic) value of TAMP for the clause. Hence, all these known instances of tense are morphosemantic, rather than morphosyntactic: syntax is not sensitive to the tense value of the verb.


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