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GENGO KENKYU (Journal of the Linguistic Society of Japan)
Vol. 2001 (2001) No. 119 P 77-110



The purpose of this paper is to explain why the English finite present perfect form cannot go with adverbials of definite time position (DTP adverbials) such as yesterday or three days ago, while one of its Japanese counterparts, i.e. the -te-iru form, can. It is demonstrated that the difference in tense structure between English and Japanese predicates, together with a certain constraint concerning the compatibility of tense forms with DTP adverbials, gives rise to the compatibility difference at issue. The proposed constraint states that the A (bsolute tense) -component, which is associated with the tense morpheme accompanying finite predicates, and the R (elative tense) -component, associated with the event time of the relevant situation, cannot both be p(osition) -definite. Thus, the English finite present perfect form, which by definition contains the A-component that is inherently pdefinite because of the definiteness of present time, cannot occur with DTP adverbials whereby the R-component is rendered p-definite; on the other hand, the -te-iru form, which consists only of the R-component, can occur with DTP adverbials. This same reasoning can account for not only why both the English pluperfect and its Japanese counterpart -te-ita are compatible with DTP adverbials, but also why the -ta form, which is said to serve as another Japanese present perfect form, is compatible with the same kind of adverbials.

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