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Detail of contribution

Auteur: Louis DE SAUSSURE

Perspectival interpretation of tenses

Abstract/Résumé: Tenses encode semantic meanings but they also trigger very specific pragmatic meanings, which however are not systematically predictable in a similar way as with representational expressions; hence the assumption that tenses are procedural rather than conceptual. In this talk, I will turn to three cases where the temporal reference of the utterance departs from what the tense's semantics would allow to predict, one of them well-known: epistemic future, and two others more specific to Romance languages and French in particular: narrative past imperfective and futurate present perfect. I venture that these three cases stem form perspectival shiftings, the locus of the shifting being different in each case. I further elaborate that modal meanings, in particular epistemic but also deontic-practical, arise from the perspectival interpretation, which in turn motivate them vis-à-vis other tenses which would produce the same temporal reference. I suggest in the end that such perspective shifts suppose a simulation-like cognitive process rather than metarepresentational.