1.2. The exceptional usages of the present tense
This section explains the exceptional usages of the present tense. These are four, the historical present which expresses the past events with the present tense, the reporting verbs of the present tense which is similar to the historical present, the present tense representing the future, the present tense in the time clause and the conditional cause. These are explained in each subsection.
1.2.1. The historical present
This expresses the past events with the present tense. It means the events which are usually expressed with the past tense are expressed with the present tense. Thus, it is effective to have a lively expression.
This came about 1300 in the literature (Curme:1931). It is thought to have that effectivity naturally, therefore, it is also said the dramatic present which is named by Jespersen (1933a).
But this is often used in usual discourse. Jespersen said that "The speaker, as it were, forgets all about time and recalls what he is recounting as vividly as if it were now present before his eyes." It is treated as a traditional explanation. See the following examples.
a. Soon there is a crowd around the prostrate form, the latest victim of reckless speeding. A strong man holds the little fellow in his arms. The crowd makes room for a slender woman who cries out, "Give me my boy."
b. He took me by the wrist, and held me hard; then goes he to the length of all his arme; And with his other hand thus o'er his brow, He fals to such perusal of my face, As he would draw it. Long staid he so.
The above is a part of stories. To represent them lively, the present tense is used. See the following figure of this.
S is put at the present naturally, and E is put at the past because of the obvious past event. But another E which is represented (E) is put at the present, because the speaker recalls as if it were present.
(E) on the time line means the imaginative event.
And M is put at the present, therefore, the three points included (E) are put there. This is parallel to the time representation of the present tense. See the following figure of it.
(E) of the imaginative E results in the three points of the present and they are similar to the above. This also means using the present tense. (*7)
The next is the historical present in discourse.
He just walks into the room and sits down in front of the fire without saying a word to anyone. (Palmer:1965)
It is often used in discourse like the above. As to it, "(It is used in narration) such as dialogue, asides, expressive sounds, motions and gestures, and repetition." is described by Wolfson (1982).
Now, as mentioned above, the present tense as the historical present is used in the situation which the past tense is usually used. Therefore, in a context, the present tense is changed from the past tense. See the following example.
I met Takeda yesterday. It was terrible! He is drunk. He speaks to anybody around him and says he is ready to make them happy.
In the above, after "It was terrible!", the historical present is used. It means the speaker recalls the event as if it were present after it.
a. Past tense
b. Historic present
(19a) is the past tense, which is explained in the chapter 2 and not explained now in detail, the event is the past and E is put at the past. This is parallel to until "It was terrible!" in (18), after it, this changes into (19b).
In (19b), (E) is put by the speaker's imagination. See the similar example.
I was just about to go to bed when all of a sudden there's a knock at the door and Sam rushes in.
The above is the same, the past tense changes into the present tense after "sudden." It represents the speaker's feeling.
|Copyright (c) EnglishCafe : Unapproved printing of the text and figure in this site is forbidden.|