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On the tense system of ZAhO (short)

Another way to understand ZAhO is to remember that they are *not*
about time as we normally think of it at all.  They are about states
of a process.

Imagine you are talking about a nuclear reactor.  It can be in the
states of being unbuilt {pu'o}, built and operating {ca'o}, or
decommissioned {ba'o}.  In addition, there is a startup date {co'a}, a
`natural' (i.e., planned for) decommissioning date {mo'u}, and an
actual decommissioning date {co'u}.

If I say, "The reactor is decommissioned," you know what state it is
in.  If you want to translate into time-based terms, you can do so and
say, ~The reactor is now in the time period after its operation, in
the aftermath of its operational period."  You can then make a `free
translation' and say, "The reactor was operating."

Most of the time, such a free translation would be accurate.  However,
it would not be accurate for the Shoreham Nuclear power plant because
that plant was decommissioned after building, but before operating.

The sentence "The reactor is decommissioned," makes a veridical claim
about the current state, not about the other states.  Translating
{ba'o} as a kind of `past tense' causes you to make unsupported (but
very often correct) veridical claims about a previous state.

Since there is often a strong corrolation between the way of talking
with PU and the way of talking with ZAhO, we often imagine that the
two types of tense are close, but they are not.

    Robert J. Chassell               bob@gnu.ai.mit.edu
    Rattlesnake Mountain Road        (413) 298-4725
    Stockbridge, MA 01262-0693 USA