> Does Comrie, or anyone, know what the maximum number of tenses in any
> natlang is?
> Does anyone have a complete list of all tenses that have been
> attested in natlangs?
> [snip]

This is a difficult question to answer. The problem is that in
natlangs, tense is often mixed up with aspect and mood, making it
difficult to enumerate the tenses in any given language. By one count,
English has twelve "tenses":

I go
I will go
I went
I have gone
I will have gone
I had gone
I am going
I will be going
I was going
I have been going
I will have been going
I had been going

But of course, we traditionally only talk about three "tenses" in
English, past, present, and future, and a good argument can be made
that morphologically there are really only two tenses (past and

So I don't really think this question is answerable.

However, I would conjecture that no language expresses more than five
tense-like categories via a single morpho-syntactic mechanism, and
that maximally these are present, near past, distant past, near
future, and distant future. Your "hesteral past", etc., are variants
of this basic system. Counterexamples?

> Doesn't Japanese have some kind of "yesterday, day before yesterday,
> day before day before yesterday, tomorrow, day after tomorrow, day
> after day after tommorrow" terminology? (I could be wrong -- I often
> am, just don't let my wife know I said that.)

Can't say about Japanese, but Romanians count up to "two days from
tomorrow" using various prefixes:

mâine - tomorrow
poimâine - the day after tomorrow
răspoimâine - two days asfter tomorrow

I imagine that the nonce word "rasraspoimaine" for "three days after
tomorrow" might be understood, though it's not official. But these are
all adverbs, not tenses.

> Some languages (which ones?) have "anterior" and "posterior" pasts
> and futures.

Well, English: "I will have gone", "I had done X before Y".

JS Bangs
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