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CANCELLED – Roumyana Pancheva: Linguistics Colloquia- Temporal Interpretation Without Tense

November 1, 2019 @ 1:20 pm - 3:00 pm  |  Humanities 1, Room 210


Languages without overt tense morphemes have typically been analyzed as having semantic tense, either contributed by a phonologically covert lexical item or supplied by a post-syntactic semantic rule. From a neo-Reichenbachian perspective, having semantic tense means having a linguistic device (a lexical item or a rule) dedicated to invoking a reference time in relation to the local evaluation time. The two types of tense accounts have also been offered for the closely related languages Mbya Guaraní and Paraguayan Guaraní (Tonhauser 2011a,b; Thomas 2014). We propose a truly tenseless account of Paraguayan Guaraní. A pronoun at the left edge of the clause, denoting the local evaluation time, directly binds the time variable of viewpoint aspect. In a matrix clause the evaluation time is speech time by default, resulting in present temporal reference, and with the help of a prospective morpheme, in future reference. The evaluation time may shift, as happens in restricted contexts in languages with tense (e.g., the historical present), but here more freely. The mechanism of evaluation time shift underlies past interpretation. The main consequence of this analysis is that tense is not a semantic universal.

Roumyana Pancheva HeadshotRoumyana Pancheva is a professor of Linguistics and Slavic Languages and Literatures at USC, her main areas of research being syntax and semantics. Her research employs formal modeling, cross-linguistic comparison from a synchronic and diachronic perspective, and experimentation.



For more information visit:


November 1, 2019
1:20 pm - 3:00 pm


Humanities 1, Room 210
1156 high st
Santa cruz, CA 95060 United States
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Linguistics Department
(831) 459-2386
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