Simple preterit and composite perfect tense

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This paper explores several interrelated pragmatic issues connected to the (verbal and adjectival) passive and the periphrastic perfect tense. The language of investigation is German. In Sections 1 and 2, I start with tense selection, as both verbal passives and Extended-Now-adverbs impose restrictions on the tenses they can co-occur with. While the passive selects the preterit (among the tenses referring to the past), Extended-Now-adverbs select the perfect. The paper then shows how the selection restrictions on tense interact with other restrictions on the use of Extended-Nowadverbs. It is demonstrated in Section 3 how this complex interaction can be described in a coherent pragmatic Optimality-Theoretic framework together with a standard semantics of tense and adverbials. The paper then concludes with Section 4, which deals with criteria shared by the adjectival passive and the perfect. Pragmatic errors in usage and the necessary repair mechanisms are also dealt with.


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