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  • 1 Department of Linguistics Ghent University, Belgium
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Summary:

The current paper investigates the three-dimensional meaning potential of the Late Latin narrative tenses. The grammatical categories ‘tense’ and ‘aspect’ are hypothesized to express meaning on the three metafunctional levels posited by Systemic Functional Linguistics. Combinations of their ideational and textual dimensions can be used to classify the various ‘traditional labels’ proposed in the literature on the Latin tenses. Interpersonal meaning, however, gives rise to an extra possibility to account for tense usage by referring to a number of perspectives from which the author invites his audience to experience the narrated events. An author like Gregory of Tours may avail himself of these perspectives to influence his audience in taking a stance on the events. The ultimate tense selection depends on a hierarchy of metafunctional considerations the author may have. The current paper also briefly discusses some of the morphological developments reported in the literature on the Latin tense system.