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date: 23 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Analyses dealing with tense in language may use different terms for the same concept, or the same term for different concepts. To avoid confusion, this article provides some informal definitions for the key terms evaluation time, reference time, and event time. Unlike English, languages such as Russian, Japanese, and Hebrew allow the present tense under attitude verbs to overlap times excluding the speech time. Languages like English are referred to as sequence of tense (SOT) languages, while languages such as Hebrew are non-SOT languages. Shifted tenses whose evaluation times are outside their respective clauses are called long-distance bound tenses. This article, which discusses tense interpretation and considers the semantics of free tenses and bound tenses, shows that pragmatics may also have a role in tense interpretation. A number of theories have been suggested within formal semantics to account for tense interpretation in language, including tense logic and the referential theory of Partee (1973). The article also examines bound relative past, bound relative present, and bound relative future, as well as syntactic and semantic binding.

Keywords: tense, free tenses, bound tenses, long distance, sequence of tense, Hebrew, semantics, semantic binding, tense logic, referential theory

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