What is the meaning of the present and past tenses?


What is the meaning of the present and past tenses? The answer to this question depends on what objects these terms refer to. If the question is about the English tense morphemes present and past, we will get one answer; if it is about their Japanese or Russian counterparts, we will get another; and if it is about a semantic categories PRESENT and PAST attributed to the theory of Universal Grammar (UG), we will get still another. In this article, I discuss the semantics (and the syntax) of (English) morphemes, but my theoretical treatment of this exploits temporal categories that I attribute to UG, expressed overtly in some languages and covertly in others.



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