Tense and mood in contemporary German
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After a discussion of some relevant secondary literature, a speaker-orientated model of tense and mood in contemporary German is presented. A semantic description of these categories is given. The basis for the description is the speaker's communicative intention, which is then formalized in logical terms. A sentence is assumed to have three components: speech act, modality, and propositions! content. The basic meaning of a tense is shown to be the temporal relationship between these three components; the tin® of the speech act is taken as the point of reference. It is shown that tense uses which do not correspond to the basic meaning are derived from other tenses by means of transformations, which may be caused by the speaker's wish to emphasize parts of the communicative intention, to achieve special euphonic or rhythmical effects, or to avoid redundancy or complicated morphological forms. It is also shown that a secondary function of tenses is the indication of the temporal ordering of propositional contents in a continuous text. The semantically derived tenses are shown to form the criteria for the choice of morphological tense forms in the syntactical component of the grammar. The modality component is described in terms of formal logic. It is assumed to have four basic functions: The use of Indicative signals the assertion of a proposition. The use of Subjunctive II is shown to be due to a conjoined negatively asserted proposition which is part of the sentence. The use of Subjunotive I is due to the irrelevance of the truth value of a clause to that of the sentence as a whole. The location of a proposition on the spectrum of probable truth is shown to be indicated by the modal auxiliaries.