Time for a change? The semantics and pragmatics of marking temporal progression in an Australian language

Marie-Eve Ritz, E. Schultze-Berndt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015. This paper contributes to a more general understanding of the semantic diversity in temporal connectives cross-linguistically by investigating in some detail a clitic found in the Australian language Jaminjung. This clitic, =biyang, variously translates into English as now or then. Now and then in English have complex meanings and each can be said to correspond, temporally, to at least two different semantic representations. We propose that the Jaminjung clitic always signals temporal progression, and because of the absence of any deictic component is compatible with all tenses and aspects. Drawing on the analysis of English then by Altshuler (2009) and representation of tense and temporal progression in discourse in Discourse Representation Theory (DRT) (Kamp and Reyle, 1993; Kamp et al., 2011), we argue that the clitic expresses a relation between two events, locating the event of its host clause in the consequent state of an antecedent event, and so does not contribute a location time for the eventuality in its clause. Yet, the clitic is also used in stative clauses and can relate two states in a relation of temporal progression. Our analysis proposes that the clitic in such cases relies on a cessation implicature (Altshuler and Schwarzschild, 2012) as well as what we have termed an inception implicature. The end and start of the two states are events that a hearer needs to infer and order via a relation of temporal succession. Temporal inferences are supported by inferences of rhetorical relations (Asher and Lascarides, 2003). We also examine various discourse marking functions of the clitic, arguing that it is used to mark progression in discourse time in a way that parallels its temporal functions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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