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Anchoring Events to Utterances without Tense
Elizabeth Ritter and Martina Wiltschko
343-351 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


It is generally assumed that (1) the linguistic expression of events must be anchored to the utterance or some other salient reference point; and (2) event anchoring must proceed temporally via the category Tense (T) because T introduces utterance time or some other salient reference time (cf. Enç 1987). Recently, it has been suggested that some languages are tenseless, and more specifically that such languages lack the category T. T-less languages pose an interesting problem for this view: How can events be anchored in the absence of T? Assuming that events must be anchored, but that event anchoring need not proceed temporally, this paper proposes that there are two other ways to anchor events to utterances: spatially or personally (via participants). It is argued that in Halkomelem (Salish) anchoring proceeds spatially via the syntactic category Loc(ation) and its spatial arguments. In Blackfoot, event anchoring proceeds via participants in the utterance (or discourse) and event. This is achieved via a third syntactic category, discourse. Like T, both Loc and discourse are predicates of (non-)coincidence (in the sense of Hale 1986), asserting whether the event argument coincides with the utterance argument.

Published in

Proceedings of the 24th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by John Alderete, Chung-hye Han, and Alexei Kochetov
Table of contents
Printed edition: $375.00