Author Topic: Einstein has lived in Berlin  (Read 291 times)

Offline mallu

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Einstein has lived in Berlin
« on: July 05, 2020, 09:42:36 PM »
Hi Everyone,
See the  following sentence
* Einstein has lived in Berlin - This is from CS Smith's The parameter of aspect. She attributes the unacceptability of the sentence to the inability of the subject to receive the participatory property,as he is dead. Reasons apart , I would like to know whether this holds only for stative situations, Is the following sentence that describes a dynamic situation acceptable.
 # Einstein has visited  Berlin

Many thanks in advance

Offline Daniel

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Re: Einstein has lived in Berlin
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2020, 02:14:50 AM »
Unacceptable for the same reasons.

This is an interesting puzzle and somewhat unsolved. One important factor is that present perfects have some sense of "present relevance", and it's hard to make Einstein's experience in Berlin relevant to the present moment. It's unacceptable simply in contrast to using the simple past tense. It may not be ungrammatical.

If you can find a way to make these sentences relevant to the present, they become more acceptable. Intuitively, this is a little more acceptable with "visited" than "lived", but both seem to work here:
Berlin Tourism Agency: Many amazing people have visited/lived in this city. Einstein has visited/lived in Berlin. And XXXX has too. And XXXX. And XXXX.
So it works in a list, when the context is about Berlin, which therefore can still have present relevance: for example, if you're planning a trip to Berlin. It's not about Einstein.

Maybe what's going on here is that subjects are usually assumed to be topics, but if you have a different discourse topic (like the location) then this is acceptable as relevant to that topic.

Remember that other usage that can be interpreted as present-relevant is acceptable:
Einstein has been dead for many years.
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Offline mallu

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Re: Einstein has lived in Berlin
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2020, 06:42:11 PM »
Thank you very much Daniel

Offline mallu

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Re: Einstein has lived in Berlin
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2020, 01:35:16 AM »
One more question please, are you aware of any other language with same restriction on the use of  'Present Perfect?French or Spanish or any other European Languages?

Offline Daniel

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Re: Einstein has lived in Berlin
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2020, 02:12:20 AM »
First you should look at the more straightforward "yesterday" test:
I ate { yesterday, *now }
I have eaten { *yesterday, now }


In French, Italian and German, the "perfect" form (have [or be] + past participle) now functions like a simple past tense, and is to some degree replacing simple past forms of verbs, especially in spoken usage. So those languages would be irrelevant for your question.

Yes, you should test Spanish, although I don't know about this detail. I imagine other languages could work similarly, but I'm not certain. There are other languages with similar verb forms (sometimes called "tenses", but more properly aspect), such as the -me- form of verbs in Swahili. And there are other languages that are said to be "tenseless" but with aspectual distinctions, so you might also find similar usage. But again, you'd need to test this specific question for each language, unless you happen to find some research about it.
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Offline Forbes

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Re: Einstein has lived in Berlin
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2020, 03:47:53 AM »
Yes, you should test Spanish, although I don't know about this detail.

Spanish has both the simple and compound forms. In speech at least, usage varies according to region. In Spain the distinction is similar to standard British English except that the compound form may be used when talking of something recent but which does not necessarily continue to have relevance, e.g. He comido bien a mediodía literally "I have eaten well at midday." In South America the tendency is to use the simple form where in English the compound form would be used.