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    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    [this was moved here from another thread to discuss an important language issue. I had asked about ads being placed inside poster's postings and this was the reply.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I have already answered you about the ads when you first brought it up.

    What is important about this is not anything to do with the actual issue of ads.

    It's often said that we don't use the present perfect with past time adverbial adjuncts. That is overwhelmingly the case BUT there are certain instances where this is overridden. One such example is Tdol's response to me, quoted above.

    Michael Swan notes this also, with this admonition to ESLs. Stick to NOT using this type of structure until you're exceedingly comfortable in English.

    Has Tdol made a mistake? NOT in the least! He has used language, the present perfect, just perfectly.

    The importance that the present perfect adds ovverides, on very limited occasions, the general reluctance of native speakers, and this is a great reluctance, to mix the present perfect and past time adjuncts.

    Tdol is in good company, [see below] not as a person of worth, but as a person who has an ability to use the English language.


    THE JAPAN TIMES • TUESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2005
    Blair denies he made deal with Brown over job

    Asked whether he had assured Brown that he will step down, then changed his mind, Blair replied: "I've dealt with this six months ago. I said then you don't do deals over jobs like this. You don't."
    Perhaps, someone who has a copy of Swan's Practical English Usage could add the pertinent sections from that book.

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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    It still sounds odd, at least to my ears.

    It's probably a case of the difference between spoken and written English. Native speakers will begin a sentence not knowing how it will end, or end a sentence unable to remember how it began (anyone who has ever lost the thread of what they were saying in mid-sentence will know this); indeed, it has been suggested (and research seems to support this) that the basic unit of speech is not the sentence, but the phrase or possibly the clause.

    If we take Tdol's "utterance" (we can probably call it that, since writing in a forum like this is half-way between written and spoken English):

    "I've already told you [...] when you first brought it up."

    It looks like a sentence, but actually it's a series of loosely-connected phrases. Writing as he thought, he began with a present perfect, intending to emphasise a present state of affairs ("You are in possession of the relevant information"), which normally precludes the use of a past time adjunct. By the time he got to the end of the sentence, however, this initial focus was forgotten, and, moving on, he added some extra information about the time he claims he told you.

    That this is happening may be hinted at if we examine a much shorter sentence, like:

    "She's left yesterday."

    That sounds even less natural.

    This is to say, in Tdol's sentence, the past time adjunct is more of an afterthought, and not actually connected to the verb except incidentally.

    It will be interesting to see how the past simple/present perfect divide continues to evolve. In German, which used to have exactly the same division between past (event in the past) and present perfect (present result of a past action), the present perfect has now lost the idea of a connection with the present and is almost interchangeable with the past, the difference being one of style (the past being the more formal variant).

    Already, there is a divergence between British and American usage, the past simple being preferred in the US. Will the present perfect die out altogether? Or will we go the same way as German? Only time will tell.

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    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    It still sounds odd, at least to my ears.
    Lots of things do. That's the beauty of corpus study, Rewboss. It shows us that there actually are certain overrides to established principles. Prescriptivists called these exceptions because they couldn't explain things well enough.

    But odd as it sounds, there are times in speech where there are clear overrides of the present perfect. Tony Blair's was just one of them.

    "She's gone, ... yesterday" works quite well, in certain circumstances.

    Hasn't anyone got a Swan?

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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    Lots of things do. That's the beauty of corpus study, Rewboss. It shows us that there actually are certain overrides to established principles. Prescriptivists called these exceptions because they couldn't explain things well enough.
    That's a straw man: I'm not taking a prescriptivist stance.

    But odd as it sounds, there are times in speech where there are clear overrides of the present perfect. Tony Blair's was just one of them.
    Yes there are. And there's precious little difference between an "override" and an "exception", in that both are deviations from a rule. The main difference is that "override" just sounds more like a rule; but if you think about it, an exception is in itself a type of rule.

    "She's gone, ... yesterday" works quite well, in certain circumstances.
    The key phrase here is "in certain circumstances". The circumstance alluded to by your use of an ellipsis is when the sentence becomes longer. As long as the sentence consists of only one clause, the present perfect together with the past adjunct sounds unnatural. When other clauses are inserted between the verb phrase and the adjunct, the connection in the speaker's mind becomes much looser; the adjunct is disassociated from the verb phrase and the subtleties implied by the perfect aspect by simple passage of time -- the speaker has modified his or her train of thought mid-sentence. This is extremely common, as anyone who has ever recorded and tried to transcribe a natural conversation can confirm. (The effect is especially noticeable in German, where grammatical convention often results in verb phrases being split, one verb remaining next to the subject and all the rest deferred to the end of the clause or eve the entire sentence; speakers who religiously stick to such conventions sometimes find themselves floundering at this point. Not surprisingly, these rules are beginning to break down.)

    Whether you prefer to construct a new grammar rule along the lines of, "A past time adjunct with the present perfect is permissible when the sentence exceeds a certain length," or take the true descriptivist approach and say that in natural speech, speakers will frequently add a past time adjunct to a present perfect without bothering to go back and correct the verb phrase, is unimportant: both positions describe what is happening here, but one is expressed as a rule and the other is expressed as an observation.

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    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    That's a straw man: I'm not taking a prescriptivist stance.
    I think that you're being overly sensitive, Rewboss. I never said that you were taking a prescriptivist stance.

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    Yes there are. And there's precious little difference between an "override" and an "exception", in that both are deviations from a rule. The main difference is that "override" just sounds more like a rule; but if you think about it, an exception is in itself a type of rule.
    The problem was that prescriptivists never took the time to figure these things out. They just fell back, still do just fall back on a catch all exceptions clause. Were this not the case, then proof would be forthcoming to support prescriptive positions. It never is because there's nothing there to provide the support


    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    Whether you prefer to construct a new grammar rule along the lines of, "A past time adjunct with the present perfect is permissible when the sentence exceeds a certain length," or take the true descriptivist approach and say that in natural speech, speakers will frequently add a past time adjunct to a present perfect without bothering to go back and correct the verb phrase, is unimportant: both positions describe what is happening here, but one is expressed as a rule and the other is expressed as an observation.
    I never made the assumption that "speakers will frequently add a past time adjunct to a present perfect without bothering to go back and correct the verb phrase". I believe that was your submission.

    I did not suggest that it was a frequent occurrence. Let me go back and check. Right, I'm back. I said;

    "It's often said that we don't use the present perfect with past time adverbial adjuncts. That is overwhelmingly the case BUT there are certain instances where this is overridden."

    All I did was note that these overrides do occur, and I offered a potential reason for the same. I don't know for sure that it's right, but I do know that these overrides occur.

    Last edited by riverkid; 17-Dec-2007 at 20:04.

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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    I never said that you were taking a prescriptivist stance.
    No you didn't; which is why attacking the prescriptivist stance was irrelevant to this thread.

    The problem was that prescriptivists never took the time to figure these things out. They just fell back, still do just fall back on a catch all exceptions clause. Were this not the case, then proof would be forthcoming to support prescriptive positions. It never is because there's nothing there to provide the support
    Here you set up the same straw man: even though nothing about prescriptivism was in your original post or my response to it, you construct an argument based on a flawed understanding of how prescriptivists work, and then attack that argument. You are not actually debating anything I have said; merely conducting a tirade against prescriptivism.

    I never made the assumption that "speakers will frequently add a past time adjunct to a present perfect without bothering to go back and correct the verb phrase". I believe that was your submission.

    I did not suggest that it was a frequent occurrence.
    That is correct; why are you arguing as if I had suggested otherwise? This is another straw man; doubly so, since I was not making the point that it happens frequently, but constructing an example to illustrate my argument that your position and the position you are attacking are actually the same position worded differently. Besides, "frequently" is a very vague and relative term.

    All I did was note that these overrides do occur, and I offered a potential reason for the same. I don't know for sure that it's right, but I do know that these overrides occur.
    And all I did was to point out that "override" is merely a different label for "exception". What you are saying, in effect, is that there is a general rule, but that sometimes this general rule is superseded by a more specific rule; which is exactly what an exception is.

    However, if I were to go further, I'd venture to say that you haven't actually advanced any reason for these overrides, potential or otherwise; merely that they happen because Swan said that such overrides exist. The theory I have advanced is that speakers modify aspects of their utterances in mid-flow causing constructions which do not adhere to established patterns (or, if you prefer, flout the rules of grammar, which is a prescriptivist way of saying the same thing).

    You haven't actually commented on either of those last two points, preferring instead to attack prescriptivism for no apparent reason.

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    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    No you didn't; which is why attacking the prescriptivist stance was irrelevant to this thread.
    Better; "No, you didn't, I'm sorry." "I'm sorry" has some connection to "No, you didn't" as opposed to "which is why attacking the prescriptivist stance was irrelevant to this thread", which doesn't. ;)

    After considerable thought I've changed my mind, Rewboss. You actually did take a prescriptivist stance. More on this later.


    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    Here you set up the same straw man: even though nothing about prescriptivism was in your original post or my response to it, you construct an argument based on a flawed understanding of how prescriptivists work, and then attack that argument. You are not actually debating anything I have said; merely conducting a tirade against prescriptivism.
    I believe that it would be my perogative to raise what I believe is pertinent. It's always relevant to expose prescriptivism for what it is, a group of charlatans pretending to describe language.

    If I have "a flawed understanding of how prescriptivists work", please feel free to explain how they work. I've asked, time and again, for someone, anyone to offer proof for prescriptions offered and they're have been no takers.


    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    However, if I were to go further, I'd venture to say that you haven't actually advanced any reason for these overrides, potential or otherwise; merely that they happen because Swan said that such overrides exist.

    With all due respect, Rewboss, do you even read what others write? Read what I said in my opening posting.

    I wrote:


    "The importance that the present perfect adds ovverides [sic], on very limited occasions, the general reluctance of native speakers, and this is a great reluctance, to mix the present perfect and past time adjuncts."

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    The theory I have advanced is that speakers modify aspects of their utterances in mid-flow causing constructions which do not adhere to established patterns (or, if you prefer, flout the rules of grammar, which is a prescriptivist way of saying the same thing).

    You haven't actually commented on either of those last two points, preferring instead to attack prescriptivism for no apparent reason.

    I believe I did comment on that; once again, let me go back and check, ..., ..., yes I did, I called it an assumption on your part. Let me clarify what I meant and add something I started in my first response in this thread.

    I guess you actually are/were being a bit prescriptive in this, in that you make the assumption, unwarranted to my mind, that there is any need for a speaker to go back and "correct" the verb phrase.

    That is the very mark of prescriptivism. "There must be something wrong with the speaker because that is a rule that simply must not be broken".

    A descriptive position would be that there is something, in this case we're calling it an override, that overrides what is the normal condition.

    Simply another manner of use for another language situation.
    Last edited by riverkid; 19-Dec-2007 at 01:50.

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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    I believe that it would be my perogative to raise what I believe is pertinent. It's always relevant to expose prescriptivism for what it is, a group of charlatans pretending to describe language.
    Well, it's your perogative, but it is a logical fallacy and makes you look like a single-minded crusader.

    If I have "a flawed understanding of how prescriptivists work", please feel free to explain how they work. I've asked, time and again, for someone, anyone to offer proof for prescriptions offered and they're have been no takers.
    Prescriptivists formulate rules, just like descriptivists do, but their philosophical position is that breaking the rules leads to a disintegration of the language, confusion among speakers, a loss of clarity and so on. They don't formulate rules for the sheer sake of it and then, when they fail to "prove" their position, pile on a load of exceptions and use "scare tactics" (as you put it in a previous post) to keep everybody in check.

    "The importance that the present perfect adds ovverides [sic], on very limited occasions, the general reluctance of native speakers, and this is a great reluctance, to mix the present perfect and past time adjuncts."
    That is not any kind of explanation as to why such overrides exist. It is merely a description of their effects.

    I guess you actually are/were being a bit prescriptive in this, in that you make the assumption, unwarranted to my mind, that there is any need for a speaker to go back and "correct" the verb phrase.

    That is the very mark of prescriptivism. "There must be something wrong with the speaker because that is a rule that simply must not be broken".
    There is no need for a speaker to go back and "correct" the verb phrase. However, you yourself quote Swan as talking about the "great reluctance" of speakers "to mix the present perfect and past time adjuncts". Unconsciously, they are following a rule -- not one laid down by ignorant grammarians with nothing better to do, but one that forms instinctively. The "great reluctance" is how we experience the rule working.

    My stance is not the one you suggest, that we should throw our arms up in horror at the way this rule is flouted. My stance is that if native speakers actually had time to analyse their own utterances, they would themselves agree that something doesn't sound quite right, even if they couldn't exactly put their finger on it. The descriptivist says, "Hmm, that's interesting; why would somebody utter a sentence that doesn't conform to the instinctive rule?" My answer is: "Because by the end of the sentence, they have already shifted their focus." There's nothing "wrong with the speaker" here; it is a fact that in natural speech and certain styles of writing, sentences are composed "on the fly". That's a very plain, clear and verifiable fact, and has nothing to do with the speaker's language skills: it does, however, have everything to do with the adaptability of human thought processes.

    This isn't a mere assumption on my part. It has been quite extensively studied and observed.

    Your position is that there is some other, even more complex, rule in effect which says that under certain circumstances, which you have not yet defined, something called an "override" comes into effect. By asserting that this seldom happens, you acknowledge that there are only a small number of circumstances under which this new rule can operate. I merely propose that there is one circumstance; namely, when the speaker recasts the sentence in mid-utterance. That makes sense of all of the available data, and if you want to dismiss this as an "assumption", you'll have to provide evidence that in fact, speakers construct sentences in their entirety before uttering them. If you can demonstrate that that is what actually happens, you'll probably be up for a Nobel prize, because it goes against everything that linguists have so far established.

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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    Hi,
    Who disturbs my slumber!!!
    It's a pity you stopped it there...but, don't worry, here's Michael Swan (entry 419, page 422-3, sections 3, 4 and 5 -fourteenth impression 2002, there is a new edition, though); hope it makes you re-take your discussion. If you -native speakers- fail to reach an agreement and draw some kind of conclusion I think I'll take to drinking...

    PAST TIME (5) SIMPLE PRESENT PERFECT AND SIMPLE PAST (ADVANCED POINTS)

    3.- PRESENT PERFECT WITH PAST TIME ADVERBS
    Grammars usually say that the present perfect tenses cannot be used together with expressions of finished time -we can say I have seen him or I saw him yesterday, but not I have seen him yesterday. In fact, such structures are unusual but not impossible (though learners should avoid them) (personal addition; Not only do they belong to an inferior class, but they will also be unable to understand it . So learners, don't rush in, just in case)
    Here are some real examples taken from news broadcasts, newspaper articles, advertisements, letters and conversations.

    France has detonated a Hiroshima-sized nuclear bomb on Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific at 17.02 GMT on Wednesday.
    Police have arrested more than 900 suspected drugs traffickers in raids throughout the country on Friday and Saturday.
    ...a runner who's beaten Linford Christie earlier this year.
    A 24-year-old soldier has been killed in a road accident while on patrol last night.
    A lot of the drivers will be thinking about the circuit, because we've had some rain earlier today.
    The horse's trainer has had a winner here yesterday,
    ...indicating that the geological activity has taken place a very long lime ago.
    Perhaps what has helped us to win eight major awards last year alone...
    I have stocked the infirmary cupboard only yesterday.
    I am pleased to confirm that Lloyds Bank ... has opened a Home Loan account for you on 19th May 1982

    4.- SIMPLE PAST FOR NEWS.
    Recently, some Britsh newspapers have started regularly using the simple past for smaller news announcements -probably to save space. Some authentic examples from the front page of one newspaper:
    The Swedish prosecutor leading the Olaf Palme murder hunt resigned after accusing police chiefs of serious negligence.
    An unnamed Ulster businessman was shot dead by terrorists...
    Driving wind and rain forced 600 out of 2,500 teenagers to abandon the annual 'Ten Tor' trek across Dartmoor.

    5.- AMERICAN ENGLISH
    In American English the simple past is often used to give news.
    Did you hear? Switzerland declared/has declared war on Mongolia!
    (GB: Have you heard? Switzerland has declared war...)
    Uh, honey, I lost / I've lost the keys. (GB: ...I've lost...)
    Lucy just called. (GB: Lucy has just called)
    In American English, it is also possible to use the simple past with indefinite past-time adverbs like 'already, yet, ever and before.'
    Did you eat already? (or Have you eaten ...?)
    (GB: Have you eaten already?)
    I didn't call Bobby yet. (or I haven't called...)
    (GB: I haven't called...)


    I hope you find it useful and come as close as possible to some sort of compromise so that we 'learners' find some ground to hold on to when telling our teachers why we find the mark given unfair. Please do go on

    P.S.- My textbook includes time expressions such as 'over the last few years'
    when illustrating the use of the present perfect, which leads to a lot of controversy as for the interpretation of the years included and teachers make us remember the difference between 'last week' and 'the last week', which in turn sparks off the production of sentences such as 'I haven't seen Peter the last week', which we are told to be unacceptable. You won't believe what classes are like nor the teacher's frame of mind at the end of them...
    Best regards.

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    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by Wuisi View Post
    Hi,
    Who disturbs my slumber!!!

    T'was us, Wuisi. You woke up with a start.

    It's a pity you stopped it there...but, don't worry, here's Michael Swan (entry 419, page 422-3, sections 3, 4 and 5 -fourteenth impression 2002, there is a new edition, though); hope it makes you re-take your discussion. If you -native speakers- fail to reach an agreement and draw some kind of conclusion I think I'll take to drinking...

    The conclusion, the factual one, is this. English native speakers do, on limited occasions, for special purposes, override the strong tendency to avoid the use of past time adverbs with the present perfect.

    Thanks for adding the Swan material.


    I hope you find it useful and come as close as possible to some sort of compromise so that we 'learners' find some ground to hold on to when telling our teachers why we find the mark given unfair. Please do go on

    P.S.- My textbook includes time expressions such as 'over the last few years'
    when illustrating the use of the present perfect, which leads to a lot of controversy as for the interpretation of the years included and teachers make us remember the difference between 'last week' and 'the last week', which in turn sparks off the production of sentences such as 'I haven't seen Peter the last week', which we are told to be unacceptable. You won't believe what classes are like nor the teacher's frame of mind at the end of them...
    Best regards.
    I'm not familiar with this distinction between 'last week' and 'the last week' when it's used with the present perfect. I think that,

    "I haven't seen Peter for a week"

    would be more common, althought,

    "I haven't seen Peter the last week" would certainly be understandable.

    Why would it be unacceptable?

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