Saturday, 25 April 2015

Patterns Of Time In English: Temporal Location (Tense)

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 215):
English foregrounds location in the flow of time (tense), and construes this not only as past/present/future relative to ‘now’ […] but also as past/present/future relative to some moment that is relative to now […], with the possibility of up to five shifts of reference point, as in
They said they’d been going to’ve been paying me all this time …
(present in past in future in past in past). This system is fully grammaticised, and is unusual in that it construes location in time as a logical relation rather than as an experiential taxonomy; it thus becomes a form of serial time reference. The tense categories also combine with time adverbs such as already, just, soon […]. Interestingly, the deictic time reference (that appealing to ‘now’) can be switched off; either there is no deixis (the clause is non-finite […]) or the deixis takes the form of modality (speaker’s angle on the process, eg they should have paid me).