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151905Re: Irrealis mood and non-finite verbs

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  • Christopher Bates
    Apr 2, 2008
      There is a book by D. N. S. Bhat called "The Prominence of Tense,
      Aspect, and Mood". What the book claims is essentially that many (most?)
      languages can be characterised as tense prominent, mood prominent, or
      aspect prominent based on how obligatory and pervasive the distinctions
      are. The author does allow for languages which are not clearly any of
      the three, and admits that it is more a matter of degree than a discrete
      classification, but he does claim that it's still useful to classify
      many languages as being one of the three, and that there are typology
      correlates of being tense, aspect, or mood prominent.

      Anyway, this is actually going sometimes vaguely relevant to your post.
      He also claims that many grammars written by Western (mostly English
      speaking) linguists have a bias to interpret TAM distinctions in terms
      of tense (and perhaps aspect). He argues that most languages claimed to
      show a future vs non-future contrast in fact probably have a realis vs
      irrealis contrast, and that so called "future" forms in many of these
      languages can also be found in many irrealis, but clearly not future,
      contexts (e.g. past wishes).

      (2) One of the typological correlates of mood prominence is a tendency to
      > Where it exists, the distinction is shown by different prefixes and/or
      > subject-markers on the verb. One language in another group (Mori),
      > interestingly, shows it by using different forms of the subject
      > pronouns, though I've seen that analyzed as simply a present/past vs.
      > future distinction.
      > My impression from some of the old (1930s) grammars of these and
      > related languages, is that "realis/irrealis" kind-of gets short
      > shrift, as if maybe the analysts weren't really too clear as to what
      > is was all about ;-((((( I may be doing S.J.Esser (who wrote an
      > extensive 2-vol. grammar of Mori) an injustice, however, as it was a
      > quite a while ago that I read him. He also wrote brief grammars of the
      > languages (or relatives) mentioned by van den Berg.
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