For readers who aren't familiar with the Theory of Relativity, here is a sketch of how the Special Theory of Relativity structures space and time:

  • There is a point "here and now" where the observer is located
  • There is an "absolute past" meaning the region of space and time wherefrom light signals can reach the point "here and now". This region is also termed backward light-cone
  • There is an "absolute future" meaning the region of space and time whereto the observer can send light signals. This region is also called foreward light-cone
  • There is a "disconnected" region that can neither be reached by light signals nor send light signals to the observer.

While present, past, and future are commonly found in natlangs and conlangs of all flavours, the disconnected region is a new feature brought in by the Special Theory of Relativity. Are there conlangs with a tempus system including such a region?

EDIT: In real life, the disconnected region is not determined by the speed of light but by the availability of direct communication channels. Thus a sentence like My husband is in his working office now is about the disconnected region (assume no smart phone stalking to verify the sentence).

  • Hmm, could irrealis modality sort of fit the disconnected region? – curiousdannii Nov 13 '18 at 11:08
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    I don't think so, you can talk in the irrealis about the present, the reachable future or the reachable past. On the other hand, you can talk about things assumed to real (just not observable, so no evidence is available) happening in the disconnected region. – jknappen Nov 13 '18 at 12:40
  • Right, it's not strictly correct, but it's a possible parallel using naturally occurring semantic features. – curiousdannii Nov 13 '18 at 12:45
  • Can you maybe give an example of a sentence that could potentially use some sort of disconnected tense? I'm having a hard time visualizing what using such a tense would actually be talking about. – Sparksbet Nov 16 '18 at 9:53
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    But if it is actually about available direct communication channels, why would you need inspiration from SRT? Related thought: I think the most important part of a relativistic tense system would be time necessarily being relative to an observer. – Richard Nov 16 '18 at 18:35

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