Re: Pragmatic/Semantic

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Mar 18 1998 - 06:44:20 EST

At 12:17 AM -0600 3/18/98, wrote:
>Jonathan Robie wrote:
>> At 12:12 PM 3/17/98 +0000, clayton stirling bartholomew wrote:
>> >But I cannot see how there can be an "uncancelable" meaning to a
>> >single word or a grammatical form.
>> Example: in English, the simple past tense has past reference. This past
>> reference is not cancelable, which is why you can't say this:
>> *tomorrow I went to the store
>> And if you say this:
>> today I went to the store
>> It is clear that you have already gone to the store, even though the rest
>> of the sentence could just as easily be wrapped around another verb form to
>> indicate future reference:
>> today I am going to the store
>> I don't think you can find a context that will cancel the past reference of
>> "went" to make it refer to present or future time. I've been wrong before!
>> Similarly, I believe the word "yesterday" has a non-cancellable past
>> reference.
>Hi Jonathan ~
>Interesting stuff ~ I get to wondering... And this is probably way
>off topic...
>What happens then with:
> today I go to the store often
>This might be a response by someone at noon who has been to the store
>several times in the AM and expects to be going quite a few more times
>in the PM. It thereby includes past and future, in a 'present' [one
>day] time frame, and a kind of simple idiomatically abstract present
>tense. Is this just simple aorist?

This is my experience every Saturday when my wife decides she wants to go
on a cooking spree without first examining what's in the pantry and
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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