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A semantic typology of present-tense constructions.

The default function of a present-tense construction would appear to be locating situations at the time of speaking. Yet language-specific and contrastive research has demonstrated that, in various languages, the present tense turns out to do anything but evoke the time of speaking when it combines with event verbs. This phenomenon, called the "present perfective paradox", has been analyzed as a consequence of the interaction of the present tense with specific types of aspectual constructions which convey a bounded perspective on a situation. The current project sets out to analyze the manifestation of the present perfective paradox in a typologically adequate sample of languages. On the one hand, the project has descriptive objectives: it will chart the characteristics of present-tense constructions and the way they interact with different types of aspect, on the basis of existing grammars, questionnaires and advanced elicitation techniques. This description will provide a unique perspective on the meaning types that can be expressed by means of so-called present-tense constructions across languages. In addition to these descriptive goals, the project aims to offer theoretical contributions to the study of tense and aspect across languages, as it will provide cognitive-functional explanations for the patterns attested, both cross-linguistically and within specific languages. Ultimately, this typological investigation will allow us to come up with a semantic connectivity map, reflecting theoretically plausible patterns of polysemy and diachronic change for present-tense constructions.
Date:1 May 2020 →  Today
Disciplines:Grammar, Linguistic typology