NABOKV-L post 0018108, Tue, 31 Mar 2009 15:02:54 -0300

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Re: de fencing lessons] Thanatus
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Re: [NABOKV-L] de fencing lessons]SK-B [ to JM: pretty "pair o' ducks" is a well-worn verbal trick. Spoken quickly it comes out as the Gilbert & Sullivan "pretty paradox." JM:I realized quite recently that jokes, even metaphors, are often culturally determined (take the kenningar). It seems that abstractions are not always spiritualized in our mind and they carry a material lastrum that pulls them back downwards into the concrete and the literal ( literal, litteral and litter).

JM: Stan, my problem arose not only with your "pair o' ducks" paradox.
It also took me some time to discover ( with a little help of my friends) another word-game which had escaped my non-anglophone referencial mania. You wrote about "she didn't know if she was Carmen or Cohen" ( from a preterite discussion about Bizet's opera) and, all the while, you simply meant "she didn't know if she was coming or going"!!! Have pity on your poor reader...

C.Kunin wants me to adhere to Shade's use of "preterist" in PF ( to understand this restricted allusion she is now oscillating bt. the word's two usages she is aware of: grammatical and a particular [...]interpretation of the bible). When I employed it, though, I had already incorporated Nabokov's (not Shade's) neologism, namely, "preterist".

Nabokov had a very early experience with French verbs, in which the term "preterite" is traditionally applied, contrary to its "historic" employ in the English ( preterite=past simple). This may have been a source for his inspiration for "preterist". After all, there are various ways to consider "the past" ( conditional, simple, perfect, etc), isn't it so?*


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* from the wikipedia ( I underlined the more important parts):
In English grammar, tense refers to any conjugated form expressing time, aspect or mood. The large number of different composite verb forms means that English has the richest and subtlest system of tense and aspect of any Germanic language[...] In each of the three time spheres (present, past and future), there exists a basic or simple form which can then be made either progressive (continuous), perfect, or both [...] Whereas in other Germanic languages, or in Old English, the "perfect" is just a past tense, the English "present perfect" has a present reference; it is both a past tense and a present tense, describing the connection between a past event and a present state. However, historical linguists sometimes prefer terminology which applies to all Germanic languages and is more helpful for comparative purposes; when describing "wrote" as a historical form, for example, we would say "preterite" rather than "past simple".

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