Approaching Grammar: Verbs (Tense & Aspect)

Okay, let’s tackle the verbs a bit. I came up with the following: I want to have two tenses, past and non-past, pretty straightforward. The aspect system is also supposed to be pretty straightforward, distinguishing between static and dynamic (is this voice?); between intensive and attenuative and between perfect and imperfective. Last but not least, there’ll be a mood system distiguishing between planned/unplanned and voluntary/involuntary events.

I don’t want all of these distinctions to just have their own respective morpheme and chain them like lego. To make things more interesting, I want them to be interdependent on each other. This is probably less agglutinating, but *meh*. The static/dynamic distinction dominates the possibility of perfect/imperfective to occur on the verb. A static verb cannot be in the imperfective or the perfect, because they do not describe an evolution over time. BUT, a dynamic verb has to be either perfect or imperfective. So we get a threefold distinction static/perfect/imperfective encodeable in one morpheme.

Let’s take an example: walk.

  1. walk-static: hiking, marching; something that involves moving your feet over long periods of time so that no end is immediately in sight.
  2. walk-perfect: the perfect emphasises the result of the action, much like in English “I have walked” vs. “I walk”.
  3. walk-imperfective: the imperfect emphasises the action as a change which has a known end point.

(I finally decided to keep things that way)

The next distinction is intensive and attenuative, basically intensifing and weakening the “meaning” of the verb. It really creates some strange nuances to have this distinction. Take the example verb walk:

  1. walk-intensive: walking fast or a lot. I personally think something like “very walk”.
  2. walk-attenuative: walking slowly or unlikely. I personally think “hardly walk”.

I have decided that static verbs cannot make this distinction.
… to be continued (on grammatical mood).

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