Tense and Time

Project summary

It is a truth universally acknowledged, at least beyond the walls of Balliol, that Time, Tense, Aspect, Mood, and Modality across languages are fraught with difficulty and complexity – nay, mystery. No one knows what is going on. This can be referred to as the TAM problem, and this project was concerned with how to use English thus understood as a base for investigating TAM issues in other languages (beyond English); and with an eye to the burgeoning TEFL market, to develop software according to our grammatical principles.

The project carried out a successful pilot study and training exercise investigating empirically the so-called Future Tenses across various languages, hypothesising that there are no future tenses in any language. In other words, the whole idea of future tenses is a mistake at at a most fundamental level. More details are available on the Tense and Time blog.

Lead investigators

Bob Hargrave, Balliol College, University of Oxford

Mark Thakkar, Department of Classics and Lincoln College, University of Oxford

Research team

(Grammar group)

Adrian Kelly,Tutorial Fellow, Balliol College, University of Oxford

Richard Gombrich, Emeritus Boden Professor of Sanskrit, Balliol College, University of Oxford

Maria Donapetry, Department of Modern Languages and Balliol College, University of Oxford

Sandra Paoli, Research Fellow, Balliol College, University of Oxford

Louise Esher, Junior Research Fellow in Modern Languages and St John’s College, University of Oxford

Amyas Merivale, Balliol College, University of Oxford

Thomas Munby, Barrister, Maitland Chambers

Sanjukta Gupta, Fellow, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, University of Oxford

(Computing group)

Peter Millican, Gilbert Ryle Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy, Hertford College, University of Oxford

Amyas Merivale, Balliol College, University of Oxford

Yorick Wilks, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Contact details for enquiries

Please email the lead investigator Mark Thakkar for all queries regarding this project.