1932

Abstract

The theoretical study of perfects tends to be based on data from European languages, particularly English. To find the proper place for perfects, we have to go beyond English to be able to separate what is idiosyncratic from what is generalizable. A central function of perfects is to speak of how the present is different from the past, especially from the immediate past. A perfect typically relates how a past state changes into the present one. Crosslinguistically, we find two major types of perfect: constructions involving the auxiliary verbs ‘be’ and ‘have’, common in Indo-European and neighboring families, and iamitives, which are the result of the grammaticalization of words meaning ‘already’. The status of iamitives is controversial. In this review, I argue that they can be separated both from ‘already’ and from European-style perfects but that it makes sense to postulate a more inclusive crosslinguistic perfect category.

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2022-01-14
2024-06-21
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