Written by wasabiphil
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Topics: Language, Time

Saturday, 19 November 2016

image for No Need for Tenses?

While it is commonly acknowledged by physicists that time is an illusion, people continue to ignore this by using the past tense and the future tense in their speech. One person who acknowledges and promotes this time/space continuum fact is Billy Pilgrimage a Spanish language teacher and amateur linguist. Pilgrimage introduced this concept at a school board meeting where his teaching methods were being challenged.

"I am not really much of a linguist," he reports, " but I do think that all languages should acknowledge this basic fact of science. If the past is really the present which is also really the future, I think our speech should reflect this by only using the present tense. Not only would this be easier for toddlers, language students would benefit too. For example, my students seem to be able to learn the present tense of Spanish or any language at the drop of a hat. However, they stumble badly over the past tense, the future tense, the conditional, the pluperfect or any other tense people use out of scientific ignorance."

"It is really pretty easy to avoid the other tenses," says Pilgrimage. "You rely on context or just put in some parenthetical explanations. For example, instead of saying, 'The cow jumped over the moon.' you say, 'The cow jumps (a little while ago) over the moon.' or instead of, 'Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep.' you say, 'Little Bo Peep loses her sheep (fairly recently.)'"

One of the school board members asked Pilgrimage how his Spanish language students were going to fare in the real world with this philosophy. They have no problems (in the future) they do not learn the future tense (in my class in the past) anyway. How do you say you will be fired after this meeting in the present tense, responded the school board member. Billy is speechless (after that).

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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