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ISSN 2227-6017 (ONLINE), ISSN 2303-9868 (PRINT), DOI: 10.18454/IRJ.2227-6017
ЭЛ № ФС 77 - 80772, 16+

DOI: https://doi.org/10.18454/IRJ.2016.48.079

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Дружинин А. С. КОГНИТИВНАЯ ИНТЕРПРЕТАЦИЯ «ПЕРФЕКТНЫХ» ВИДО-ВРЕМЕННЫХ ФОРМ АНГЛИЙСКОГО ЯЗЫКА / А. С. Дружинин, С. А. Песина // Международный научно-исследовательский журнал. — 2016. — № 6 (48) Часть 4. — С. 27—29. — URL: https://research-journal.org/languages/cognitive-interpretation-of-english-perfect-aspect-tense-forms/ (дата обращения: 08.12.2021. ). doi: 10.18454/IRJ.2016.48.079
Дружинин А. С. КОГНИТИВНАЯ ИНТЕРПРЕТАЦИЯ «ПЕРФЕКТНЫХ» ВИДО-ВРЕМЕННЫХ ФОРМ АНГЛИЙСКОГО ЯЗЫКА / А. С. Дружинин, С. А. Песина // Международный научно-исследовательский журнал. — 2016. — № 6 (48) Часть 4. — С. 27—29. doi: 10.18454/IRJ.2016.48.079

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КОГНИТИВНАЯ ИНТЕРПРЕТАЦИЯ «ПЕРФЕКТНЫХ» ВИДО-ВРЕМЕННЫХ ФОРМ АНГЛИЙСКОГО ЯЗЫКА

 Дружинин А. С.1, Песина С. А.2

1Кандидат филологических наук, кафедра английского языка № 1 МГИМО (У) МИД России, 2Доктор филологических наук, Доктор философских наук, профессор, МГТУ им. Г.И. Нососва

КОГНИТИВНАЯ ИНТЕРПРЕТАЦИЯ «ПЕРФЕКТНЫХ» ВИДО-ВРЕМЕННЫХ ФОРМ АНГЛИЙСКОГО ЯЗЫКА

Аннотация

В данной статье читателю предлагается взглянуть на перфектные видо-временные формы английской грамматики в ракурсе биокогнитивной концепции языка и прототипического подхода к семантике. Автор предпринимают попытку сформулировать семантические репрезентации данных глагольных форм, которые отражают их ориентирующее воздействие на субъектов речи в процессе коммуникации, а также способствуют лучшему пониманию особенностей их значения и функционирования в практике обучения.

Ключевые слова: биокогнитивная семантика, перфектные формы, видо-временные глагольные формы, когнитивный подход.

Druzhinin A. S.1, Pesina S. A.2

1PhD in Philology, 1st English Department, MGIMO University, 2PhD in Philology, PhD in Philosophy, Professor, MGTU named after G. I. Nosov

COGNITIVE INTERPRETATION OF ENGLISH “PERFECT” ASPECT-TENSE FORMS

Abstract

The article offers a cognitive subject-oriented perspective on English perfect tense forms. The author endeavors to define and formulate their semantic representations which are supposed to meet three prime objectives, namely to 1) reflect the orientation effect used by a languager in the process of speech production as coordination of his/her own interactions; 2) interptret the meaningful content and mental imaging associated in the subject’s mind with this grammar form; 3) serve as an auxiliary technique in understnding and explaining English grammar for various teaching and learning purposes.

Keywords: biocognitive semantics, perfect forms, aspect-tense forms, cognitive approach.

The hypotheses of bio-cognitive semantics and formulated principles of the subject’s cognitive accumulation of grammar knowledge in the language environment they socialize imply that we should not trap ourselves in a vicious circle of independently existing forms and structures named ‘items of grammar’ [1,2,4]. Hence, all that impels us to look at the so-called perfect forms from the point of view of language routine and its semiotic value, in other words, make an attempt at identifying the semantic representation which is lodged in people’s minds by the language form.

In the first place, to understand the true nature of languaging the idea of ‘perfection’ (we will challenge this term later on) we should pay attention to the sense-bearing peculiarity of recurrent ‘have+done’ usage. In fact, we all take it for granted that the idea of  knowing, for example, can be expressed in English with the help of the verb learn, only somehow formally modified. It is also the case with be friends and make friends. Examples are many. Indeed, the conventional semantic equation would look like:

know = have learnt

be friends = have made friends

In point of fact, it is subconsciously felt that the discourse meanings of the forms appear to be practically similar. A slight difference consists in the fact that the second form represents not simply knowing but something that a subject has after learning (learnt), or not simply being friends but a friendship which one has after making it (made). It turns out that English speakers have a language routine of expressing such a specific relation in time (have-had-will have) and space (the idea of having a completion of some action or state) that helps them more precisely describe the fragment of reality as they perceive it. In other words, they look at what they see in different aspects and refer to the notions of individual observation (existing in a specified position of doing), general knowledge and understanding (indefinite occurrences and facts) or ‘possession of eventive accomplishments’ (having accomplished events). That is why in English we deal with aspectuals or aspect forms be doing, do, have done, which also finds its manifestation in other languages through different linguistic means (e.g. the category of aspect in Russian).

Possession of eventive accomplishments’ is a suggested definition which, from our point of view, seems to embrace the semantics of have done forms or possessive constructions. In simpler words, the speaker refers to having, or encompassing something already completed. Taking cognition-based explanation into account, we could reach the conclusion that this possessive construction represents the fact that the subject has/had/will have something in their spatial domain of perception which is left after an action or state, i.e. signs or results of something completed expressed in the participial form of a verb. [1]

This approach comes into collision with the traditional interpretation dictating that ‘present perfect denotes a past action at an unspecified time connected with the present’ or whatever. First, conceptually this construction does not refer to an action. Second, it can never refer to the past. Only after realizing and recognizing this (even purely semantic, not that it is cognitive) factor will learners and teachers be able to enhance an understanding of this grammar phenomenon and cope with numerous delusion-related mistakes in its usage.

Discussing the theory of designation and indexation in connection with time reference, A. Kravchenko maintains, and we fully agree, that present is what constitutes the fragment of actuality sensually perceived by the subject (from Latin praesent, prae before, esse be, e.g. presumably meaning which is before) [4]. I would add on my part that this fragment appears as something the subject feels their presence in. Respectively, past is what ‘past us’ or behind our senses and can be spatially ‘pointed to’ with the help of the index ‘then’.  Here are a few pairs of contrasted discourse situations exemplifying the underlying difference between present and past grammar forms frequently confused due to their typical structure-bound misinterpretation:

He is very sensitive. I have discovered that. =

I have something left after discovering that. =

I have a discovery of that. =

I know it now.

He is very sensitive. I discovered that. =

That discovery happened to me, I remember.

 

You look different! Did you get a haircut or something? =

Did getting a haircut happen to you [then]?

 

? You look different! Have you got a haircut or something? =

Do you have: a haircut [now]?

The presented view of the idea of possessiveness left after an action or state seems to serve as a more efficient explanatory guide for all those who struggle with English grammar. At least, the cited interpretation models testify to a more transparent vision of the orientation effect the speaker intends to make on the addressee. Such an approach to perfect forms calls for a more justifiable term, which could help define the essence of this language phenomenon in a more plausible way. We would propose ‘possessive constructions’ focusing on the semantics of the no-meaningless ‘have’ rather than the participle of the verb, which has so dangerously misguided many grammarians into the idea of ‘perfection’ highlighted in the traditional term.

The meaning of possession and having can be metaphorically transferred to the idea of inclusion or presence in the fragment of reality described:

It has been an interesting interview, thank you.

I have had a hard day.

I haven’t had a meal this morning.

The discourse meaning of encompassing the interview, today’s hard day and this morning’s meal is down to the speaker’s sense of presence in them as part of their valid experience of having these spatial phenomena (been, had) in their domain of perception. The validity of experience gained by the subject in question can also trigger a rethink towards the idea of possession:

(On CV) I have worked at a university in Madrid.

I have lived in Moscow, I know what it feels like.

A much more commonly found discourse situation where the speaker chooses to describe the act of having valid experience is that in which reference is made to a stretch of the subject’s memory. In other words, the speaker claims that the perception of the described state of affairs embraces (encompasses) a period of time:

I have lived in Moscow for 5 years. =

I have: a 5-year [experience of] life in Moscow.

In relation to the sphere of the past, the presented interpretation pattern seems to prove its efficiency in cases when the traditional explication gives mixed messages. Particularly, the well-known ‘action preceding another past action’ goes beyond any understanding in the following examples:

He started reading. An hour later he had read 20 pages.

Before they had walked a mile, he took off his jacket.

He began apologizing before I had paid the driver.

He decided to wait until he had talked to the manager.

In essence, the dogma is predictably leading one astray as it stems from the idea of ‘perfection’ and ‘before-occurrence’ with the focus on the surface semantics of the participle. The clue about the reasons behind the choice of the verbs in these sentences lies in modeling the subject’s perception and their ‘spatial possession’ (awareness of having something after a completed action) within it as identified in the possessive constructions:

He started reading. An hour later he had read 20 pages. =

An hour later he had 20 pages [in mind] =

He was aware of 20 pages of his reading.

 

Before they had walked a mile, he took off his jacket. =

Before they had a mile of walking, he took off his jacket. =

They were not aware of a mile’s walk when he took off his jacket.

 

He began apologizing before I had paid the driver.

He began apologizing before the driver had my payment. =

He began apologizing when the driver did not have (wasn’t aware of) my payment yet.

 

He decided to wait until he had talked to the manager. =

He decided to wait until he had a complete talk with the manager. =

He decided to wait until the manager was aware of him [after talking].

As a brief summary of the chapter we would sketch out the main points of the suggested approach to the so-called perfect forms:

  • perfect forms are possessive grammar constructions representing a subject’s vision of time-space relation;
  • by using grammatical possessives the subject refers to encompassing the eventuation of an action or state in their spatio-temporal domain of perception;
  • the idea of having what is left after an event could be understood as the subject’s present, past or future (according to the temporal point specified) awareness of some spatial change.

[1] By way of hypothesis to be later discussed and tested, we would assume that the given description seems to echo the psychonomic understanding of awareness, in which an observer consciously sees the stimulus and is able to ‘make force-choice decisions above a chance level of performance’ [5]. The psychological notion of stimulus in this case might be interpreted from the subject’s perspective of signs, evidence and possible ‘left-overs’ representing a completed occurrence.

References

  1. Druzhinin А. S. Kognitivno-pragmaticheskie osobennosti kontrafaktivnykh grammaticheskikh konstruktsij v amerikanskom predvybornom diskurse 2000-2012 gg.: diss. … kand. filol. n. / А. S. Druzhinin. – M.: 2014. – 181 S.
  2. Druzhinin А. S. O statuse soslagatel’nogo nakloneniya v anglijskom yazyke v svete kognitivnoj lingvistiki / А. S. Druzhinin // Filologicheskie nauki: voprosy teorii i praktiki. – Tambov: “Gramota”, 2012. – № 2 (13). – S. 62–65.
  3. Druzhinin А. S. Znakovaya sushhnost’ grammaticheskoj konstruktsii / А.S. Druzhinin // Vestnik MGIMO–Universiteta. – 2012. – № 5. – S. 210–214.
  4. Kravchenko А. V. Teoriya ukazatel’nosti: ehgotsentrichnost’, dejktichnost’, indeksal’nost’ / А. V. Kravchenko. – Irkutsk: izd-vo Irkutskogo universiteta, 1992. – 210 S.
  5. Merikle, M. P. Toward a definition of awareness / Philip M. Merikle //Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 1984. – Volume 22, Issue 5. – pp. 449-450
  6. Novikov, D. N. K biokognitivnym osnovaniyam leksicheskoj semantiki: Tak gde zhe zhivut slova i ikh znacheniya? [Tekst] / D.N. Novikov // Vestnik MGLU, 2009. – № 571. – S. 101–114.
  7. Pesina. S. A. Reprezentacija slov v leksikone / S.A.Pesina // Mezhdunarodnyj kongress : sb. mat-lov ; M-vo obr. i nauki RF, In-t jazykoznanija Ros. Akademii nauk, Tamb. gos. Un-t, Rossijskaja associacija lingvistov-kognitologov. Tambov : Izdatel’skij dom TGU, 2010. S. 121-123.

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