Friday, July 22, 2011

English Glitch

In the previous post, I have run into what I think is an odd thing about the tenses of English. Rather, what we have doesn't support a small but necessary (I think) form of usage.

e.g., "I knew someone in the past. He was Japanese." He was Japanese when I met him. and I presume that he still is. Why wouldn't he be??

If I said "I dated the plumber's niece, whom I met through my best friend. They are cousins. We were good friends, it was the best of times...", I think that the tense structure gets all foobared with that construction. On the other hand, saying that "..they were cousins..." seems to imply that they may not be cousins anymore. Which is unlikely.

You see my problem??


Joan of Argghh! said...

Yep. Spanish has linguistic conventions for that sort of ongoing past state of being and for the uncertainty of future ongoing state of being. They don't have the "have you stopped beating your wife" dilemma.

leelu said...

...lucky them!