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Saturday, January 28th, 2017
workshop
philosophy of mental time V:
time in language


Languages differ in the ways they express time and the passing of time, and in the way they indicate the time and duration of events. Tense and aspect are the most common ways of marking the latter, but there are many different ways of doing this, and some languages may lack tense and/or aspect or use mood as some kind of proxy.
The topic of this workshop is linguistic variation in the expression of time and its philosophical implications.


speakers

Adam Forsström
(Uppsala University, Sweden)
Time is Running out – a Critical Study of Germanic Tense

David Yoshikazu Oshima
(Nagoya University)
The Tense-Aspect system of Japanese and Expression of State Concepts

Kei Yoshimoto
(Tohoku University)
Tenses in Japanese Complex Sentences

Yu Izumi
(Kyoto University)
Predicativism and Temporal Rigidity

Takashi Iida
(Nihon University)
Tense in Japanese Attribute Sentences

Lajos Brons
(Nihon University)
Skeptical Remarks on the Relevance of Tense and Aspect


place and time
Nihon University, Sakurajousui campus, Building 3, Room 3201.
January 28th (Saturday), 2017, 13:00 ~ 18:30.




abstracts

Lajos Brons
Skeptical Remarks on the Relevance of Tense and Aspect

There is considerable difference between languages in how they deal with the expression of the temporal situation of events. Tense and aspect are the most common ways of marking when an event took or takes place and how it extended or extends over time. However, different languages have different tenses and aspects, mix them with modality to greater or lesser extent, or even lack grammatical tense and/or aspect. This variation might raise a number of questions. (1) What is the extent of actual and possible variation? (2) Do these differences lead to (interesting) differences in ways of thinking between speakers of (relevantly) different languages? And (3) Does this linguistic variation have any (other) effects or implications that are philosophically interesting and/or important? This short talk addresses all three questions, but will only offer some skeptical remarks and no (real) answers.

This paper is available for download here.


Yu Izumi
Predicativism and Temporal Rigidity

According to Predicativism about proper names, a name such as 'Mary' is a predicate applicable to more than one object, but it forms a complex noun phrase in argument position that can be used refer to a particular object (Elbourne 2005, Fara 2015, Izumi 2012, 2016, among others). One of the main objections to Predicativism is that a Predicativist semantics fails to account for the rigidity of proper names satisfactorily. Schoubye (forthcoming) argues that the extant Predicativist analyses that purport to explain rigidity are either stipulative or making wrong predictions. By drawing on the temporal interpretation of noun phrases discussed by Musan (1997) and the temporally non-rigid use of proper names, this paper argues that a version of Predicativism defended in (Izumi 2012, 2016) is neither stipulate nor making wrong predictions.


Adam Forsström
Time is Running out – a Critical Study of Germanic Tense

Grammatical tense is significant for the Germanic languages to situate actions in time. Through grammatical tense we show whether the action has already happened, is about to happen or is happening; through grammatical tense we refer stages of time. This is the common outlook: tense (tempus) denotes time.
In my presentation I want to challenge this immediate relationship. To what extent is temporality, Zeitlichkeit, expressed through grammatical tense? Together with linguists such as Peter Eisenberg, Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen and Werner Bartsch I will argue that tense fails to denote time, as it does not answer the question of when an action took place. Instead, as I will illustrate, it rather answers the question of how an action took place and should consequently be interpreted as more closely related to grammatical aspect.
Pluperfect, perfect, imperfect, present, future and future perfect – through practice and combinations their temporally relevance decline in favor for the context in which they are being used. The context of the clause and the intentions of the speaker freely make use of tense without denoting the corresponding time period (Zeitstufe). In my presentation I will be giving examples of this, mainly from English, German and Swedish. Ultimately the presentation aims to challenge common linguistic norms and open up for a discussion about how and if we (truly) are able to signify and refer to time in language.


Kei Yoshimoto
Tenses in Japanese Complex Sentences

The interpretation of tenses in Japanese complex sentences involves the tense markings of both matrix and subordinate predicates, Aktionsarten of the predicate, and the hierarchical level to which the subordinate clause belongs. While this is a complicated enough task, a problem still remains of why the tense interpretation is affected by Minami’s (1974) four-level sentential hierarchy, as many other linguistic phenomena are. This paper addresses these questions. It is shown that the behavior of tenses result from general mechanisms which introduce and manipulate two kinds of variables (scopes) conveying tense information differently in the hierarchical levels.


David Yoshikazu Oshima
The Tense-Aspect system of Japanese and Expression of State Concepts

Japanese has a wide range of means to express states (nondynamic eventualities), including (i) adjectives (also called i-adjectives, verbal adjectives; e.g., akai ‘is red’), (ii) na-nouns (na-adjectives, nominal adjectives; e.g., shinsetsu na ‘is kind’), (iii) predication-only no-nouns (no-adjectives, precopular nouns; e.g., muryoo no ‘is free’), (iv) stative verbs (e.g., aru ‘exist’), and (v) verb forms that involve the “stativizer” i- or -ta (e.g., {kawaite iru/kawaita} ‘is dry’). I discuss (i) how these classes of expressions interact with the tense-aspect system of the language, and (ii) how they semantically contrast with each other in terms of their scale-structural properties (e.g., gradability).


Takashi Iida
Tense in Japanese Attribute Sentences

There are two basic kinds of sentences in Japanese: state of affairs sentences, which report concrete states of affairs, and attribute sentences, which ascribe enduring properties to subjects. Because states of affairs are either events or states and, therefore, have temporal locations and develop in time, it should be obvious that tense and aspect are important features of states of affairs sentences. It is less obvious, however, what roles tense and aspect play in attribute sentences. The aim of this talk is to consider what determines the tense of an attribute sentence in Japanese.