Perfect tense and aspect

From: Jonathan Robie (74144.2360@CompuServe.COM)
Date: Wed Sep 04 1996 - 09:39:15 EDT

I'm still struggling with perfect tense. My basic problem is that I have a hard
time reconciling Young's description of perfect with BDR and Robertson. The
latter two describe it basically as a past action with continuing results, or as
a current state which results from a past action. They give examples to show
different emphases (stressing the beginning, stressing the ending, timeless,
repeated action). I assume that this presentation pre-dates current models of
tense and aspect. But I think that I understand it!

Young's presentation completely mystifies me. He uses an analogy of a parade,
and says that the perfect is like a parade master who is "looking at the
arrangements, conditions, and accompanying events in existence at the parade,
rather than viewing the parade itself as a whole ar one float at a time". Huh? I
know how to view the parade as a whole, and I know how to view it one float at a
time, but I don't know how to look at the arrangements, conditions, and
accompanying events. I just don't know what this means.

Even though Young seems to differ from Robertson and BDR in theory, his
treatment of examples is similar, e.g.:

Young calls this consummative perfect, saying that the state of affairs had
continued for a while but has now come to an end. Robertson calls this a perfect
where the end is stressed, which pretty much agrees with BDR. But what does this
have to do with the parade master?

I could continue with other examples, but so far, it seems that the
interpretation of specific examples in the three grammars is very similar, even
though the theoretical discussion of the meaning of perfect is significantly

Am I missing something?

And what *does* the parade analogy mean?


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