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[long] Re: On the tense system

First of all, I want to show that your graphical representation and
mine are really equivalent, although yours seems to me a bit vague and
misleading. I'll explain why:

> The simple explanation of the ZAhO tenses is to look at a non-instantaneous
> event.  ba'o is the time after the event, pu'o is the time before the
> event.  All of the other ZAhO tenses are similarly tied to an interval
> of the even actually occurring, which I picture like this
> pu'o     -> |   <----   ca'o    ---> | <-- ba'o

You say "pu'o is the time before the event"

I think this means "a point in time before the event", where the point
can be taken as a co'i type of point, but it doesn't mean
"all of time, from time immemorial, to the begining of the event"
The same goes for the other two.

Example from the tense paper:

        ___mi pu'o damba___
        I [inchoative] fight.
        I'm on the verge of fighting.

i.e. I'm at a point in time before my fighting begins.
Notice that {mi ba damba} is also true: at some point in the future
I'll be fighting; while {mi pu damba} has nothing to do with it.

(If the definitions of pu'o and ba'o were reversed, as I think would
be natural, this would be:  mi ba'o damba. = I'm on the verge of fighting
which shows clearly that the fighting is in the future)

In your picture, you write the word at the place of the reference point,
and use the same graph to show the three tenses. I prefer to separate
them because some parts of the graph are irrelevant to some tenses, eg
the end of the event is irrelevant to pu'o, the beginning is irrelevant
to ba'o, and both boundaries are irrelevant to ca'o.

pu'o    -------0-------|===========>-------------->
ca'o    ----------------=====0=====>-------------->
ba'o    ----------------===========>|-------0----->
co'a    --------------0|===========>-------------->
co'u    ----------------===========>|0------------>

=======>  the event
|         the relevant boundaries of the event (other boundaries are fuzzy)
0         the reference point (could be a co'i type point)

For the others I need extra symbols. To mark the "natural" ending
of the event, which does not have to coincide with the actual ending,
I'll use ")". And for the interruption, "/".

co'u    ----------------===========>|0------)----->
za'o    ----------------===)===0===>-------------->
di'e    --------(-----0/===========>-------------->
de'a    ----------------===========>/0-------)---->

For co'u the existence of a natural ending may or may not be relevant.
For za'o I'm not certain whether I got the 0 in the right place, but
from the example in the paper it seems right:

        ____le xirma ca za'o jivna bajra___
        The horse [present][superfective] compete-type-of-runs
        The horse keeps on running a race too long.

ie The horse is still running after the natural end point of the race.

I think it is more clear to align them such that the reference point '0'
falls in the same place, as I did in my previous post, but this is not
essential. Aligned this way, it is clear that they are equivalent to your

you write:
> The metaphor of the pictured event far predated the Imaginary Journeys
> metaphor, and led to the assignments of cmavo.  pu'o like pu refers to
> the time before the event, ba'o like ba refers to the time after the event.

I think this is wrong. In your terms, pu refers to the future of the event
(a time after the event occurs) and ba to the past (a time before the
event occurs). The difference from the others is that here we don't claim
anything about whether the event has already began or ended. Thus
{mi ba damba} means that I am at a point in time where my fighting is in
the future, or I'm at the past of my fighting, but says nothing about the
present. {mi pu'o damba} implies that the fighting has not yet started (at
least the fighting I'm talking about).

> Unfortunately in actual usage people don't seem to be referring to events
> when they use the contours, and the result is that the tags seem backwards.

I think the tags _are_ backwards, and this comes from the difference in the
prescribed use of ZAhOs as sumti tcita, as compared to the rest of the

I go back to the paper's only example of this (there is a second example
for the analogous space tenses):

        ___mi morsi ba'o lenu mi jmive___
        I am-dead [perfective] the event-of I live.
        I die in the aftermath of my living.

I would like to interpret it as: reference point {lenu mi cmive}
ba'o lenu mi jmive ==> the event has been completed at time {lenu mi cmive}
===> I had ceased being dead at the time of my living.
which is odd, unless you believe in reincarnation.

But if both the definition of ba'o and the semantics of ZAhO tcita were
consistent with the other tenses, it would be:
ba'o lenu mi jmive ==> the event has not began at time {lenu mi cmive}
                       I was going to die, at the time of my living.
Which is sensible, and closer to the paper's meaning. (The two "errors"
tend to cancel each other out in sumti tcita)

To get even closer to the meaning of the paper I'd say:
        {mi morsi co'a lenu mi co'u jmive}
I begin being dead from the time of the event I cease living.
I die at the time I cease living.

But this last one I think, is more precise and clear than the paper's.
Under the present rules, I dont even agree that
{mi morsi ba'o lenu mi jmive} excludes the possibility that I died before
I ceased to live, as the paper says, it only excludes the possibility that
I'm still living, which {mi morsi ba lenu mi jmive} does not.
{mi morsi ba'o lenu mi jmive} means (under present interpretation) that
my being dead is at a point in the future of my ceasing to live. It says
nothing about what went on before I ceased to live.

>From the two year old message:

>     b) a state has a beginning and an end, and during a state-event the  ___
>     predicate is 'smooth' and continuous with no substructure          _|   |_
>       a state therefore has a before (pu'o) an after (ba'o) and a
>       during (ca'o), as well as two point-events - an initiative
>       (co'a) and a cessitive (co'u) to mark the points of
>       discontinuity

The problem is that the "before, during and after" here refer to the relative
position of the event wrt the observer, while for the PU it's the other way

Interestingly, co'a and co'u have the right vowels (a from ba and u from pu)
for my interpretation, but the wrong ones compared to ba'o and pu'o. Was this
done on purpose?

(I deleted point events, activities and processes, but the idea is the same.)
Then there were a couple of examples with tenses used as modifiers
such as {le co'a zdani} but this use is coherent with the rest of the

In summary, I have two problems:

1) the meanings of ba'o and pu'o are crossed. To see this clearly,
compare the very similar (but subtly different) ba'o ~= puco'u
and pu'o ~= baco'a. This problem is not terribly important, just

2) the semantics of the ZAhO as sumti tcita is unnecessarily different
from that of the rest of the tenses. This I think is important, and this
is the cause of the switched ba'o and pu'o.

I don't think that the present interpretation permits to say things in
any easier manner than the more consistent one. If it does, could you give
some examples? (Only of sumti tcita, the other uses are consistent.)

Sorry about the length of all this,