- Table of Symbols and Abbreviations
- About the Authors
- The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspect
- Philosophy of Language
- Narratology and Literary Linguistics
- Computational Linguistics
- Universals and Typology
- Discourse and Text
- Diachrony and Grammaticalization
- Language Contact
- Creole Languages
- Primary Language Acquisition
- Second Language Acquisition
- Remoteness Distinctions
- The Surcomposé Past Tense
- Bound Tenses
- Embedded Tenses
- Nominal Tense
- Lexical Aspect
- Verbal Aspect
- Perfective and Imperfective Aspect
- Progressive and Continuous Aspect
- Habitual and Generic Aspect
- Habituality, Pluractionality, and Imperfectivity
- Perfect Tense and Aspect
- Resultative Constructions
- Time in Sentences with Modal Verbs
- Evidentiality and Mirativity
Abstract and Keywords
This article explores the semantics of tense and some of the puzzles that surround the analysis of tense in the philosophy of language. The first question that will arise is exactly what kinds of things can be tensed. Is tense, as some contend, merely a feature of language (linguistic tense) but not of thought or the world, or are thoughts and facts about the world tensed as well—tensed facts being examples of what we could call “metaphysical tense?” The tensers take tense to be an irreducible and real feature of the world, whereas the detensers think it is a superficial property of language or thought that can be regimented away in terms of other (more scientifically legitimate) primitives. This article does not argue for or against tensism, but simply illustrates why the position is attractive, the kinds of obstacles it faces, and some of the extraordinary consequences that extrude from the view. It also discusses morphemes as well as the phenomena of sequence of tense and dual-aspect readings.
Peter Ludlow is Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Northwestern University. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1985. He is author of Tensism and presentism (in preparation), Understanding temporal indexicals (2007), Tense (2006), Presentism, triviality, and the varieties of tensism (2004), Metaphysical austerity and the problems of temporal and modal anaphora (2001), Semantics, tense and time: An essay in the metaphysics of natural language (1999), and Semantics, tense, and time: On tenseless truth conditions for token-reflexive tensed sentences (1997).
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