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Paul Roser said:
> On Thu, 3 Jun 2004 15:28:11 +0100, Peter Bleackley
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>>Is there any language where tense is marked on a noun rather than the
>> verb?
>>It seems that English is heading towards tense being marked on the
>> subject,
>>but is the process complete in any language?
>>
>>Pete
>
> There are a number of languages (including Tariana, Somali, and Salish)
> that mark tense on the noun or noun phrase, though I don't think any have
> nominal marking to the exclusion of verbal marking.


I can think of three situations where somebody might be inclined to
believe that nouns are being marked for tense (but I believe otherwise).

(1) There is a process of tense spreading (in a few Australian languages,
at least; there may be others) in which all clause constituents except the
subject are marked for tense if tense is marked. This is better described
as agreement. There are other languages in which more limited tense
agreement occurs.

(2) There are languages (including English) in which verbs can be derived
from nouns without any derivational morphology. The verb 'impact' is
neologistic in my lifetime, for example. This is still a form of
derivation, though -- there's nothing to be gained from describing this as
a noun marked  like a verb: it's been turned *into* a verb.

(3) There are languages (including a large proportion of Austronesian) in
which no such classes as "nouns" or "verbs" are distinguished -- pretty
much any open-class lexical item can be used either way. This might make
it appear as though a "noun" is being marked for verbal features.


Also, I don't think English marks tense on the subject as Peter suggests.
I think that we have tense markers that sometimes realize as clitics,
making it appear phonologically that the subject is being marked for tense
when in fact the subject is just being followed by a clitic. That is, the
subject is no more being marked for tense in

     a. John's at work.

than in

     b. John is at work.



-- Mark