Semantic properties of Portuguese tenses: temporal, aspectual and modal values
Keywords:European Portuguese, tenses, aspectual values, modal values
The main objective of this article is to define the most relevant factors responsible for the differences in the uses of the various tenses in European Portuguese. This paper discusses the semantic properties of some of the Portuguese tenses (present, future and past tenses, including simple and compound forms), focusing on their plasticity in terms of temporal, aspectual and modal values. As a theoretical principle it is argued that semantic value can be expressed by a set of different forms and one linguistic form can express more than one semantic value. In some way, this article contributes to define a ‘work program’ on linguistic research that will help to understand how linguistic forms can be described and explained, despite the diversity of their functioning and the instability of grammatical categorization in a given language. These general guidelines also allow us to describe grammatical phenomena from a wide range of perspectives. This paper is based on a specific theoretical framework (theory of predicative and enunciative operations – cf., a.o., Culioli 1995), which provides us with a more comprehension of linguistic data. The main proposal of that framework is that linguistic forms are markers of a set of cognitive operations. In this sense, the grammar of a specific language – Portuguese, for instance – must be described taking into consideration the links between the grammatical forms and constructions and the grammatical categories considered simultaneously, as they occur in language use, rather than each one in isolation. Therefore, this theoretical framework moves away from a strict lexical approach.
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