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Modelling the “Aoristic Drift of the Present Perfect” as Inflation An Essay in Historical Pragmatics

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In this article, the diachronic tendency of present perfect forms to become more and more past tense-like is analysed in terms of an inflationary process within an Iterated Learning Model. The paper proposes to improve on current accounts of the diachrony of present perfects (mostly set in the framework of grammaticalisation theory) by making explicit a selfreinforcing causal mechanism that drives the process, namely that speakers overestimate the current relevance contribution of their utterances. The main theoretical issue is to develop an explicit account of language change where modifications in a linguistic system are long-term effects of the use of language, or, put differently, of speaker-hearer interaction and the biases that act upon them.


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