"Did you see it?"

Ant222   Friday, September 10, 2004, 19:12 GMT
Hello, everybody!

«You can use whichever tenses you want to express yourself. I can only describe my own usage, which correlates very highly with that of other native speakers... Either way, it's your choice.» (Mxsmanic)

I have already understood that I can choose tenses on my own, basing on my perception of the event. I'am asking questions because just what I want is to express thoughts as native spekers do (at least choice of tenses).

«I'd like to suggest that the Past Simple, when used to report an event, "cuts a slice out of time". By that I mean that the use of the Past Simple puts temporal limits, both before and after, on the activity or event expressed by the verb.»

Here I'd like to make the following note. Probably, the following example will be considered as a correct usage of the Present Perfect by most people on this thread.

A teacher gave an exercise to his students, which is to be made at the lesson. After 15 minutes passed, he asks: "Well, have anybody finished?"

Here the event of finishing the exercise has certain temporal limits: since the moment he gave them the exercise till the current moment. Hence, the statments
«In it's journey into the past, the Present Perfect reaches an infinite distance!» (about the Present Perfect) and
«We want to show that we are limiting just how far back in time we are willing to go in referring to the event.»
are not fully correct.

The lower time limit is set explicitly in the following: «What have been done in quantum mechanics since 1954?»

But by this I do not reject the guidelines given. I just want to show that they are useless when are applied seperately from each other. But when a problem is considered with the help of the totality of theese guidelines, and when we don't treat them in a true-false way, only then they gain real power.

By using a set of guidelines we reduce fuzziness. The true-false philosophy fully gets rid of fuzziness by rounding off all the logical variables to only two values. But this method results in very high inaccuracies because every variable can assume an infinite quantity of values. Everybody knows that, in order to get the result with n precise decimals, the calculations should be made with at least (n+1) decimals in the values involved. The true-false method implies calculations with all the variables already rounded off.

In general, I like this Jim's explanation.

Of all the guidelines offered (I call them so to put emphasis on their fuzziness which was lost when the quite precise indivisible mental notion of the Present Perfect was translated to a more prmitive verbal form as a set of certain statements) I have found one to be the best for the streaker case (which doesn't mean that only this one should be applied): we individuate the vent. We saw it, and then, speak about what we saw, e.g. about a certain event. It works well (along with my proposal about indication of time) in the cases like:

«Governation' made its premiere last night on the big screen. Did you catch it?» (Mi5 Mick) Here, before we asked about the event, we had singularized it. Both the inquirer and his interlocutor are aware of the event discussed. But in the streaker case only the inquirer surely knows about the event. That have been the main sticking point to me. Can we consider it singularized when we do not know if our intercilluctor knows of it? I incline that, nevertheless, it is just what is applicable here.

«...the well-known rule that the Past Simple can occur with adverb phrases of specific time (yesterday, an hour ago, when I realized that I was late, etc.), but that the Present Perfect cannot occur with such phrases, but must be combined with adverbs like "ever" and "yet".» (Jim)

As Jim has shown (or showed?), this "rule" follows from the time limit criteria. So, to have less inaccuracies, we should use not the colloratory but it's source. The colloratary, when being formulated, gained new inaccuracies due to the nature of the formulating process. Furthermore, the source of colloratory is more easy to understand and to remember because it is more logical, more closely connected to the primary mental notion.

Don't I bother you a lot with such long postings? Are they of interest to you?

Ant_222   Friday, September 10, 2004, 20:05 GMT
«I will now try to argue that "Have you seen the program?" is appropriate according to the rules that have been stated.

1. When asking the question, I am thinking about the present state (i.e. whether my students KNOW what was said in the program).

2. I am not thinking about a particular time in the past. For all I care, the students could have taped the program and watched it at any time they wanted.» (Tom)

On the 1st.
If not for the second, the first would obviosly have no power. You would certainly have in mind a certain time, becasuse the task was like "Please, watch the program which will be shown at HH:MM." Of course, in this case the time doesn't matter, but you speak about a certain singular event (Jim's reasoning), as in Mi5 Mick's example about watching a premiere on the big screen and in the question "Did you see it?". Yes, my original problem fully satisfies the first statment!

On the second.
1. By default, when asking the question, you should have meant direct wathcing, shouldn't you? Even you asked "The program will be shown at HH:MM. You should watch it, please." my statement would probably be correct.

2. Therefore, the possibility of recording the program is an exclusion and may not be taken into acount.

3. An implicit indication of time partially takes place even in the recording case. Recording the program time limited event) is a requirement for the possibility to watch it at any time after it have been recorded. And on that ground I assert that (partially) the event of watching the program is temporally connected to the act of recording and, hence, can be considered as a temporally limited act too.

But: "You bought the book two years ago. Have you read it?" is very similar to the considered example. And, at least now, I can not verbally express the subtle difference seen to me between the two examples. The following is only an attempt: here we do not consider buying the book as an actual criteria of the possibility to read it. The book is known to be bought. That is a given fact, beyond duoubt. We just mean by this that the intercoluctor have had a long time to read it.

I couldn't have refuted you, Tom, but I tried to show the reasons inclining me to the use of the Past Simple tense.
Ant_222   Friday, September 10, 2004, 20:32 GMT
«I don't know anymore! It's not something I've ever thought about 'til being bumped on the head by it here on this forum and I've still got the headache» (Mi5 Mick)

It is a very strange feeling. You had not have problems with something (you just had not been noticing it, using it automatically) until you thought of it in depth...

A probable explanation is simple. As I said in my previous post, thinking of such a thing implies translating a very good mental notion to a verbal form (because human logic can operate by only verbal forms) which is much more primitive. And, after some time passed, theese verbal forms began overriding the original mental notion (for some reason). And problems appeared.

Mi5 Mick   Saturday, September 11, 2004, 03:23 GMT

>>To ask "why" would be to assume that language was consciously designed in this way, which it wasn't.>>

<<"Did you see the program?" would be the wording because you had previously introduced it and set them them the task of watching it.
Compare "Have you done your homework?"... <<

Well I have can say (or write) is you can't isolate the two and create parallels between them. You have to go below this level of "apparentness" by drawing upon the ideas of Mxsmanic and Anton to understand the design.
Tom   Sunday, September 12, 2004, 02:02 GMT
Suppose the situation is the same, except that I gave my students a tape to watch. Can I say (at the next class): "Have you watched the program?".
Ant_222   Sunday, September 12, 2004, 08:45 GMT
I think, yes. Almost the same as "Have you done your homework on today?"

Mi5 Mick   Sunday, September 12, 2004, 08:51 GMT
I think so, but all these new ideas seem to have thrown my judgement. "did you watch the program?" still seems like my favoured reponse for this situation and I just can't explain why. "So, have you watched the program?" could be on par with this.

I'm starting to think it's culturally dependent as Mxsmanic indicated earlier in this thread. If you could set up a poll to probe native speakers and maybe find out where there from, (like you see on other forums) you might get some useful feedback.
Damian   Monday, September 13, 2004, 06:40 GMT

An oversight....I have not replied to you...sorry!

Jim said:
<<Hi, Damian. Did you really mean Present Perfect instead of Past?>>
I cleared that cock-up o' mine, I think! ;-)
You asked:

<<And what is the meaning of the word latte? >>

Coffee with milk. Latte: Italian for milk.
The restaurant at the store where I work does a really cool latte.
I love coffee.....I love Starbucks too!...thanks, America! ;-)