Basic qualities of the perfect forms — страница 3

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английском языке, стр. 112—113. Basic Qualities of the Perfect Forms 93 latter proposal may be fully accepted, the definition of the meaning of the category presents considerable difficulty. Its essence appears to be precedence: an action expressed by a perfect form precedes some moment in time. We cannot say that it always precedes another action: the present perfect form is most commonly used in sentences which contain no mention of any other action. On the other hand, the use of a non-perfect form does not necessarily imply that the action did not precede some moment in time. It may, or it may not, have preceded it. To find this out, the reader or hearer has to take into account some other feature of the context, or, possibly, the situation, that is, an

extralinguistic factor. Thus, the opposition between perfect and non-perfect forms is shown to be that between a marked and an unmarked item, the perfect forms being marked both in meaning (denoting precedence) and in morphological characteristics (have + second participle), and the non-perfect forms unmarked both in meaning (precedence not implied) and in morphological characteristics (purely negative characteristic: the collocation "have + second participle" not used). On the whole, as a general term to denote the basic meaning of the perfect the term "correlation" in the above-mentioned meaning seems quite acceptable and we propose to make use of it until a better term is found, which may take some time to happen. If this view is taken, the system of verbal

categories illustrated by the forms writes, is writing, has written, has been writing, wrote, was writing, had written, had been writing, will write, will be writing, will have written, will have been writing, — is based on three groups of notions, viz. tense: present vs. past vs. future; aspect: common vs. continuous; correlation: non-perfect vs. perfect. As is seen from this list, the latter two of the three oppositions are double (or "dichotomic"), i.e. they consist of only two items each, whereas the first (the tense opposition) is triple (or "trichotomic"), i. e. it consists of three items. We will accept this state of things without entering into a discussion of the question whether every opposition must necessarily be dichotomic, i. e. consist of two

members only. Thus, the opposition between writes and wrote is one of tense, that between wrote and was writing one of aspect, and that between wrote and had written one of correlation. It is obvious that two oppositions may occur together; thus, between writes and was writing there are simultaneously the oppositions of tense and aspect; between wrote and will have written there are simultaneously the oppositions of tense and correlation, and between wrote and had been writing there are simultaneously the oppositions of aspect and correlation. And, finally, all three oppositions may occur together: thus, between writes and had been writing there are simultaneously the oppositions of tense, aspect, and correlation. 94 The Verb: The Perfect If, in a system of forms, there is only

one opposition, it can obviously be represented graphically on a line. If there are two oppositions, they can be represented on a plane. Now, if there are three oppositions, the system obviously cannot be represented on a plane. To represent it, we should have recourse to a three-dimensional solid, viz. a parallelepiped. Prof. A. Smirnitsky has given a sketch of such a parallelepiped in his book. 1 However, a drawing of a parallelepiped cannot give the desired degree of clarity and we will not reproduce it here. USES OF THE PERFECT FORMS We have accepted the definition of the basic meaning of the perfect forms as that of "precedence". However, this definition can only be the starting point for a study of the various uses of the perfect forms. Indeed, for more than one

case this definition of its meaning will seem wholly inadequate, because its actual meaning in a given context will be influenced by various factors. Though a very great amount of investigation has been carried on in this field and many phenomena have by now been elucidated, it is only fair to say that a complete solution of all the problems involved in the uses and shades of meaning of the perfect forms in Modern English is not yet in sight. Let us first, ask the question: what kinds of linguistic factors can be expected to have an influence on the use and shades of meaning of the perfect forms? We will try to answer this question in a general way, before proceeding to investigate the possible concrete cases. These factors, then, would seem to be the following: the lexical