Epistolary deixis in Novgorod birch-bark letters.

2014. №1, 21-38

Jos Schaeken a, @, Egbert Fortuin a, Simeon Dekker a
a Leiden University Centre for Linguistics; NL-2300 RA, Leiden, Netherlands;
@ j.schaeken@hum.leidenuniv.nl


The present article deals with the phenomenon of ‘epistolary past tense’ in the Novgorod birchbark letters. This term refers to the use of the past tense for events that coincide with the time of writing, e. g. посласмь к тобђ шесть боцекъ вина ‘I have sent to you six barrels of wine’ (i. e. ‘I am sending to you…’). In the light of the birchbark data, the standard account of the epistolary past tense turns out to be insuffi cient. In this article, a more refi ned and adequate explanation for the use of the past tense is proposed.