1887
Volume 40, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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Abstract

This article presents the findings of a cross-linguistic survey of tense. In an areally and genetically balanced sample, 318 languages were investigated for whether they have tense and, if so, how they partition the timeline with respect to the deictic centre. Three quarters of the languages have tense: the majority partition the timeline into three sections: before, during and after the deictic centre (effectively past, present and future tense). Those languages with only two tenses most commonly have future/nonfuture tense. Interestingly, a group of languages have only one tense, the majority of them the future. This might indicate that there is a stronger motivation for the future tense to grammaticalize than for other tenses, mirroring a real/unreal world divide: real world events are easier to characterize through aspect than events that are yet to happen, which might create a need for a device that locates an event in future time.

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2016-05-09
2019-12-15
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