Re: "Present-future" Tense (was "Ungrammatical ...")

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Sep 06 1999 - 08:46:47 EDT


I think I owe you something of an apology over my last message on this topic and your response. I don't really think there was any failure on your part to state clearly what you were saying about the "present-future" continuum so far as the non-indicative moods are concerned. What I was trying to do myself in my last message was to underscore those points on which I thought that you and I were in agreement. I wanted to make clear that I agreed with you on some important items of your longer presentation so as to be clear about the point on which I DISagreed with you: your argument that there's some particular association between the aorist and future even in the indicative because of that apparently-shared -S- marker, which seems to me a rather negligible coincidence.

Regards, cwc

At 3:15 PM +0100 9/3/99, Michael Haggett wrote:
>Yes, there is always the danger of oversimplifying in order to make a point,
>and no language is without a whole load of irregularities (except perhaps
>Esperanto) :-)
>But there is one thing in Carl's reply that seems to indicate that I didn't
>communicate as well as I could:
>He wrote:
>> I may not be able to demonstrate any more decisively
>> an alternative way of understanding these relationships, but I think it's
>> worth considering that in conditional clauses (other than generalizing
>> types), the subjunctive of any tense (present, perfect--not just the
>> aorist) is oriented to future time;
>Carl's point about the subjunctive is exactly the point I am trying to make.
>My "present-future continuum" (awkward, isn't it!) applies to what I would
>call all the three tenses: continuous, simple and complete. As the
>subjunctive is the mood of potential action it must be oriented to the
>future - for if the action had happened or was happening (relative to the
>point of time of the formulation, that is) it would be actual rather than
>potential. What we call aorist, present and perfect subjunctives are better
>thought of in terms of the nature of the potential action as simple,
>continuous and complete subjunctives - the time element is hardly relevant.
>This would explain why there are no imperfect or pluperfect subjunctives.
>The same is equally true about imperatives, the order (relative to the point
>of time it is given) must relate to future time - because you wouldn't order
>someone to do what has already happened or what is already happening. So
>what we call present, aorist and perfect imperatives are not to be
>differentiated in a time sense but in the same terms of
>continuous-simple-complete: to keep doing something, to do something and to
>finish doing something. This, in the same way, would explain why there are
>no imperfect or pluperfect imperatives.
>||||||| Michael Haggett
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