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Evolution in Romance Verbal Systems


Edited By Emmanuelle Labeau and Jacques Bres

The present book focuses on evolution in the Romance verbal systems. In the wake of Bybee’s and Dahl’s studies, it advocates the benefits of adopting a cross-linguistic and diachronic approach to the study of linguistic phenomena. Within the scope of the Romance family, similar cross-linguistic evolution paths are explored, as related languages at different stages of grammaticalisation may shed light on each other’s developments. A diachronic dimension also proves desirable for several reasons. First, a diachronic approach significantly enhances the explanatory power of linguistic theory by showing how a specific form came to convey a certain function. Second, change is better revealed in diachronic movement than in static synchrony. Third, meaning constantly evolves and a one-off probe will be less revealing than a sustained study through time. Finally and most importantly, similarities across languages appear more obviously in diachrony. All the chapters of this volume participate in their own way to that crosslinguistic and diachronic approach and help make it an original, focused contribution that covers all main Romance languages.


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Pier Marco BERTINETTO Non-conventional uses of the Pluperfect in Italian (and German) literary prose 145


Non-conventional uses of the Pluperfect in Italian (and German) literary prose Pier Marco BERTINETTO, Scuola Normale di Pisa 1. Introduction The ordinary interpretation of the Pluperfect (henceforth PPF) is straight- forward.1 Using Reichenbach’s (1947) conventions, an event (E) expressed by the PPF occurs before the Speech Time (S) and before a contextually determined Reference Time (R). As has been pointed out (cf., e.g., Bertinet- to 1986), the semantic representation of this tense refers to two structural levels: temporality, inasmuch as it is coded as a past-tense, and aspect, in- asmuch as it involves the subjective choice of a suitable R, as required by all perfect-tenses. Although the PPF is not to be found in the tense-system of all natural languages, whenever it appears it seems to exhibit, by and large, the same semantic representation – at least with reference to its prototypi- cal uses – as well as a remarkable diachronic stability. Needless to say, the last statement should be read cum grano salis. Depending on the language, the PPF may marginally exhibit peculiar semantic properties;2 besides, in some 1 The reader should be aware of the conventions adopted in this paper. First, capital initials are used to designate the tenses belonging to language-specific grammatical de- scriptions. Thus, the ‘Present Perfect’ to be found in the English tense-aspect system appears with capital initials, while no capital is used when the term ‘present-perfect’ re- fers to the aspectual domain. Second, the word ‘tense’ is restricted to grammar-specific designations, while the semantic domain...

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