, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 955-971
Date: 16 May 2014

Is aspect time-relational? Commentary on the paper by Jürgen Bohnemeyer

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Tense is traditionally assumed to express temporal relations between the time of the event and the moment of speech, whereas aspect expresses various views on one and the same event. In Klein (1994), it was argued that the intuitions which underlie this viewing metaphor can be made precise by a time-relational analysis as well. In his article “Aspect vs. relative tense: the case reopened”, Jürgen Bohnemeyer challenges one important point of this analysis, the equation of aspect and relative tense in the English perfect and in temporal forms of few other languages. In the present comment, it is argued that this is indeed a simplification, which does not speak, however, against a time-relational analysis of aspect in general. The main lines of such an analysis for the English perfect are sketched. It is shown that it naturally accounts for differences between the simple past and the present perfect, as well as for the oddity of constructions such as Einstein has visited Princeton or Ira has left yesterday at five.