In Describing Morphosyntax, Payne uses a number of diagrams for visually explaining aspects and what they say about actions relative to time.

Payne outlines the following, all of which occur in natural languages.


[-----] He wrote a letter.


<-----> He writes letters.


-----|x He has come from Aqaba.


---|DC---(now) I had entered a congested zone.


>-----| She finished working.


[-----> She began working.


>-----> He is writing letters


x He sneezed.


>-x-x-x-> He is coughing.


<-----> He drinks.

Are there other Aspects that do not appear in natural languages which have been invented for conlangs, and could they be represented with a similar visual diagram?

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    lojban has a bunch e.g. lojban.github.io/cll/10/9 and lojban.github.io/cll/10/10 but these are probably based on features present in some natlang or the other...
    – user15
    Feb 7, 2018 at 1:02
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    Are Imperfective and Habitual supposed to have the same diagrams? (I'm not familiar with the book referenced in the question.)
    – lee
    Feb 7, 2018 at 15:19
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    I'd like to ask, do (naturally formed) SLs count? These can have many aspects unknown to most natlangs, but I wonder if any aspect isn't naturally formed in spoken languages. EDIT: Also, could answerers explain how they discovered that information?
    – Duncan
    Mar 8, 2018 at 15:07
  • Lojban has so-called superfective (using za'o), but I don't know if its also used by natlangs or if it is an aspect at all.
    – Duncan
    Mar 11, 2018 at 9:56

2 Answers 2


Well, y'know, ANADEW and all that, but...

As far as I know, there is no natural language with a grammaticalized antiperfect aspect--i.e., an aspect where the time of the action is after the reference point, rather than before.

Present Perfect: "He has come." Past Perfect (pluperfect): "He had come." Future Perfect: "He will have come."

In each case, the event occurs before the reference time defined by the tense. In the case of future perfect, this may or may not be before the present.

An antiperfect flips that around

Present Antiperfect: "He is going to come." / "He is about to come." (approximately) Past Antiperfect: "He was going to come." / "He was about to come." (approximately) Future Antiperfect: "He will be going to come." / "He will be about to come." (approximately)

The various English paraphrases all have some extraneous additional implications (e.g., "He was going to come" implies that he didn't actually, "about to" implies that the action is nearby) that are not inherent to the antiperfect aspect, if it were grammaticalized. The important thing is that the action occurs after the reference time, but not necessarily after the present. Thus, just like a future perfect action could have occurred in the past, a past antiperfect could occur in the future.

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    These all seem more like tense+aspects than aspects Feb 7, 2018 at 18:45
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    Would that not just be a prospective aspect, or perhaps a relative future tense? Feb 7, 2018 at 21:05
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    @curiousdannii ANADEW: A natlang's already dunnit, except worse. Apparently it's a conlanger's phrase/concept, though I cannot divine if it's positive or negative in connotation. See: Conlang-L FAQ
    – user4
    Feb 8, 2018 at 3:15
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    Past Antiperfect: "He was going to come." - Portuguese - and I suppose several other Romance languages - has this; your sentence tranlates as "Ele viria". But we don't call it "past antiperfect"; we call it "futuro do pretérito" - future of the past. Which raises another issue: the way one classifies the grammatical categories of a language is not neutral, and a foreign linguist can see, and classify, some feature very differently from a native speaker - or even a native linguist. Feb 10, 2018 at 13:07
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    And so, what a conlanger thinks is a unique feature of his or her language may well exist in a natlang, under a very different label. Feb 10, 2018 at 13:16

Morotuncanian has some verbal aspects that I rather doubt appear in natural languages of the primary world.

Sedative and Excitative verbal aspects. The former aspect expresses the nature of the action, through time, as calming and steady in nature. The latter aspect expresses the nature of the action, through time, as unsteady or agitated in nature, but not to the point of being considered iterative or incessant.

bollahcctuerayas er som huomuram le ciwamauroyas : aa : bollahccendayas hasto curelloram le ollaloyas.

Youth fidgets whilst age naps.

Or, literally, "Are sitting agitatedly with the earth the younglings while are sitting calmly, majestically towards chair the elders."

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    Which parts of that sentence are the sedative/excitative markers? And how do they relate to the internal temporal structure of the verb?
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 25, 2018 at 5:01
  • -tuer- is the agitative marker, -end- is the sedative marker. bor- (here elided) is the gnomic / universal present tense marker. These are among the stative aspects (like incessant vs approximative aspects) and thus describe the nature of the action itself rather than its temporal domain.
    – elemtilas
    Feb 25, 2018 at 5:17
  • Why do you think these should be considered aspects rather than manner adverbs?
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 25, 2018 at 8:27

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