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Hi there,

Here's a sentence from a book "The Articulate Mammal: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics"

In speech, three processes, at the very least, are taking (1) place simultaneously: first, sounds are actually being (2) uttered; second, phrases are being (3) activated in their phonetic form ready for use; third, the rest of the sentence is being (4) planned.

What I don't understand at all, is why the author uses the present continuous tense in these places that I've marked in bold... I'd say this sentence like this:

1) [...] take place [...]
2) [...] sounds are uttered [...]
3) [...] phrases are activated [...]
4) [...] the sentence is planned.

The reason for this, I suppose, is that we use the present simple tense when (we're?) talking about general rules... and the author seems to be describing (seems to describe) some general rules when she talks (when she's talking?) about what processes take place (again: taking place?) in speech.

Hope that somebody will explain it to me, thx in advance!
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Comments  (Page 2) 
OK then, the finnal question... please, consider these sentences:

1. When members of the Winnebago tribe sit around a fire and hear a chant of how the world was created [...] or when early Japanese heared a chant about formation of Heaven and Hell [...] - they are listening to a narrative.

Q: Why on earth is there the present simple in the first part of the sentence and the pres. cont. in the second one?

Q: Besides, doesn't "when" have a meaning of "while" here? So why don't we say "when... are sitting around" for instance?

2. The teller of the myth does not have to argue or prove, when he chants the story of [...]

Q: Again, why the pres. simple and not the pres. cont. ?

3. Yes, I will give you some examples, that Lyotard does not use, but which help explain his theory.

4. Here Lyotard is drawing upon the work of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgestein.

Q: Here, I don't get it why the author uses two different tenses if he wants to say what another author says (is saying?) in his book...

Thanks... sorry for being a pain in the...
anglista2008 Here Lyotard is drawing upon the work of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgestein.
This one is the easiest to explain.

Lyotard is drawing upon another's work in this case alone.

Lyotard draws upon another's work is also possible in the one-case meaning, but could alternately imply that Lyotard as a matter of habit, regularly does this. Lyotard (always) draws upon the work of Wittgenstein.

CJ
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anglista2008When members of the Winnebago tribe sit around a fire and hear a chant of how the world was created [...] or when early Japanese heared a chant about formation of Heaven and Hell [...] - they are listening to a narrative.
This pattern:

When ... [present simple] ..., [present progressive].

is a fairly typical pattern. I call it the "redefinition" pattern. What is mentioned in the when clause is the phenomenon to be defined or explained. What is mentioned in the main clause is the redefinition or reframing of the phenomenon. It's not a matter of two different things happening at the same time -- not one thing happening while another happens. It's the same thing looked at in two different ways. (That's why, in my opinion, while is not really the best explanation of this pattern.)

You're saying: This thing happens (regularly, habitually), but this other thing is really what's happening. That is,

When this thing happens, what is "really" happening (then) is this other thing.
___

Sitting around a fire and hearing a chant are things that happen.
When those things happen, what is "really" happening (if we may redefine it thus) is listening to a narrative.

Compare:

When you turn the key in the ignition switch, you are starting your car.
When the clown makes funny faces, he's trying to get the children to laugh.
When people do exercise and take vitamins, they are maintaining their health.
When a liquid evaporates, the molecules on the surface are escaping into the surrounding air.
When I use unusual idioms in my posts, I am encouraging students to learn new turns of phrase.


CJ

P.S. You presented another one of these earlier in your thread:

When a person learns English as a second language, they are speaking English filtered through their first language.

And your original post may be considered an elaborate variant of the same pattern:

In speech, three processes, at the very least, are taking (1) place simultaneously: first, sounds are actually being (2) uttered; second, phrases are being (3) activated in their phonetic form ready for use; third, the rest of the sentence is being (4) planned.

This is somewhat equivalent to a combination of all of these:

When you speak, three processes are taking place.
When you speak, sounds are being uttered.
When you speak, phrases are being activated.
When you speak, the rest of the sentence is being planned.