Tense Switching in English Narratives: an FDG Perspective
The functions of the simple past and the present perfect appear to be well delimited in English according to prescriptive grammars. However, in actual use their distribution is still a challenging area of English linguistics since there are fuzzy cases in which this distinction is blurred. For example, in some varieties of English the present perfect seems to be taking over the role of the simple past to express definite past in narratives, where the simple past is the default tense. In these
... t tense. In these cases, the use of the present perfect has been regarded to be functionally motivated by the speaker's intention to highlight the current relevance of the event expressed by this form (Ritz, 2010, Walker, 2011). The main objective of this research will be to use the results of corpus analysis and of the relevant studies on this topic and to propose an FDG analysis of these data. It will be concluded that the use of the present perfect in narratives has various functions captured at two different levels of the architecture of FDG, namely the Representational Level (RL) and the Interpersonal Level (IL). At the RL, the present perfect functions either as a marker of resultative aspect, or as a signal that a new narrative Episode is introduced. At IL, this form functions as a device for Emphasis, highlighting a salient passage in the narrative.