Towards a Theory of the Semantics of Grammatical Categories
Carl Bache and Carl Bache
8. Towards a Theory of Action, Tense and Aspect 299
8. Towards a Theory of Action, Tense and Aspect This chapter offers an overview of the description proposed in chapter 7 and briefly describes some of its applications. Let us begin by recapitulating one of the central tenets of this book: one of the tasks of universal grammar is to provide a general metalanguage and an absolute standard if we want it to serve as a useful framework for the analysis of any particular language. This approach to universal grammar is prompted by the need to improve interscholarly communication and to have instrumental research strategies in our continual quest for insights into the nature of human language. The assumption here is that only by having such a 'too strong' and 'too regular' model to relate to, can one hope to be able to determine, with any degree of precision, the nature of a language-specific system, including its irregularities and peculiarities. The description of action, tense and aspect and the general metalanguage proposed in chapter 7 is an absolute, image-based prototype model. It embodies, in a coherent and regular way, what sense we can make out of the meanings and relations that we recognize as important in language-specific data. Any deviation from this model in a specific language may falsify it or show it to be incomplete at one level. That is the rule of the game for any model. But at the same time, at another level, by being capable of identifying language-specific deviation with great precision, the model confirms...
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