The shared core of the perfect across Englishes
The perfect aspect has not received extensive attention in the study of varieties of English, but its interpretation as aspect or secondary tense is debated by grammarians of (Standard) English. This paper examines the semantics of the perfect in ICE corpora of three varieties, Great Britain, East Africa and Hong Kong. The major division between non-continuative and continuative perfects is supported, with evidence that the core sense is temporal, rather than aspectual. The perfect carries an additional sense of relevance between the event and the time of speaking. Elaborations of the core sense specify the kind of relevance, either as recent past, resultative or in specific registers. Some extensions of the perfect involve more typical aspectual meanings, which profile the period in which an event occurs. The paper concludes that the study of new varieties has much to contribute to the resolution of grammatical questions normally considered independent of varieties of English.