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Title: An analysis of the German past tenses according to Weinrich's tempus-theory with reference to the English past tenses
Author: Ernst, Peter
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1967
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The present work is a study of the function of the simple and compound past tenses in German and English. It is largely an attempt to apply the findings of recent investigations to a substantial corpus of material. The tense-forms of language do not denote time (this is done by contextual elements such as adverbials) but inform the hearer about the speaker's attitude towards events. 'Besprechen' and 'Erzahlen' (H. Weinrich) are the two fundamental speech-situations, which are represented by two parallel tense-groups: 1. The group of the 'Besprech-tenses (present, perfect, and future) and 2. the group of the narrative tenses (preterite, pluperfect, and conditional). This dichotomy is reflected in the sequence of tenses, which is understood to be a combinatory restriction to the effect that within the sentence there is, as a rule, no transition from one to the other tense-group. The present tense is the zero tense-form in any kind of 'Besprechung' (dialogue, commentary, review, scientific literature, etc.), whereas the preterite is the zero tense in narrative (short story, novel, etc.). The other tense-forms within the two groups indicate the speech-perspective relative to the zero tenses; thus the perfect and the pluperfect are the retrospective tenses, the future and conditional the prospective tenses within their respective groups. The perfect is frequently used in statements, question negations; in conjunction with the preterite it usually serves as an introduction or announcement, which is followed by a preterital continuation. In fiction this pattern is reflected in the ' Rahmenerzahlung', where the actual narrative is. embedded in a presentic frame. - An essential feature of German word order is the 'bracket' or sentence frame which can have a direct bearing on the choice of tense. Within the larger context of the narrative the expanded tenses in English function as 'background' tenses against the plot-advancing simple tenses. If the sequence of tenses is broken, i.e. if narrative tense-forms occur in a non-narrative context and 'Be-sprech'-tenses in a narrative this is a departure from the norm and represents a figurative or metaphorical use of tense.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available