2

Are there languages where verbs inflect for mood but don't inflect for tense and aspect?

For instance, if a language had one set of indicative forms and another set of subjunctive forms, but didn't distinguish past, present, or future tense, or imperfect and perfect aspect, that would count. Or, similarly, if it had an imperative or a special form for hypotheticals, but didn't distinguish any of those tenses or aspects, that would count.

(To be clear: obviously, all languages can express meanings like "this happened in the past" or "this is an ongoing situation." The question is whether there are special verb forms for these things.)

4
  • 3
    I think you need to work a bit harder to clarify what you mean by mood. The term is used in different ways. While imperative may make sense cross-linguistically, not many of the other things that are sometimes called "mood" do.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 1 '20 at 14:55
  • 1
    Yeah, valid. I'm happy for this to be a big tent, and I'd love to hear about possible edge cases that might qualify. But so ok: I'd be interested in hearing about a tenseless/aspectless language with dedicated verb form that's used for expressing hypotheticals, counterfactuals, wishes, hopes, doubts, demands, prohibitions, negation, speculation, or other nonveridical attitudes, or that's required under a matrix verb expressing one of those things, or that's required under a conditional, or etcetera. Oct 1 '20 at 15:16
  • ...and if someone has something else that they'd normally call "mood" that doesn't fall under that definition, I'd still like to hear about it. :) Oct 1 '20 at 15:25
  • The base modality distinction of realis/irrealis is present in many languages, and I'd guess there's at least one that doesn't have tense or aspect.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 1 '20 at 22:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.