Children playing hide-and-seek, when they find a buddy in hiding, call out things like, "I(‘ve) found you!" (past or present perfect tense). The way I \ understand it, this is the usual way to announce you have just found someone you have been seeking.
Now, I saw a movie the other day, and there was this guy, after looking for his girlfriend for a long time, finally finds her, and then he says, "At last I find you!" This got me thinking why he used the present tense. It looks similar to "We meet again," a phrase people say when they bump into each other, but I don't think they greet each other with "We met again" in such a situation (correct me if I'm wrong!), so things appears to be a little different here.
Could anyone enlighten me on the whole conundrum, especially with regard to the difference in nuance between "I(‘ve) found you!" and "I find you!"?

lemmings
Children playing hide-and-seek, when they find a buddy in hiding, call out things like, "I(‘ve) found you!" (past or present ... on the whole conundrum, especially with regard to the difference in nuance between "I(‘ve) found you!" and "I find you!"?

Would you say that he spoke in a relatively normal tone of voice, or was it a sort of comical, stagey, dramatic tone? Perhaps with a mock foreign accent?
There are certain odd lines that people say playfully, that may be actual quotations or just in the spirit of old movies, plays, romantic poems, novels, etc. Two that come to mind:
"Curses, foiled again!" (disappointed, like the villain in an old melodrama)
"After you, my dear Alphonse" (exaggerated politeness, especially when two try to go through a door at the same time)
"Aha! We meet again!" (when you keep encountering the same person)

These are just little bits of folk humor, which sometimes smoothe out a rough spot. I think "At last, I find you!" could be the same sort of stock phrase. As a tiny joke, it's nicer and more conducive to having a pleasant evening than "Where on earth have you been! I've been looking everywhere for you. I thought you said..."
The odd tense might be from having been made famous by a foreigner? I imagine Greta Garbo...
I looked to see if somehow this was an identifiable quotation. "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life, at last I've found you" is a famous old song. An early translation of Grimm's "Little Red Riding Hood" had "At last I find you" but it's not well-known, like some of the other lines in that story. Lennon and McCartney put "And when at last I find you" into a song of theirs; that's the normal tense there for the conditional, "when I find..."

Best - Donna Richoux
I agree that "At last I find you!" sounds a bit stagey.

I can see a rationale for the distinction in tense between "I found you!" and "We meet again." To find someone is a transient event. Once you have found him, you are no longer finding him, even if the event is only as long past as the time it took you to draw breath and speak. However, once we meet, we are still meeting until we part. If I wrote you a letter after the meeting, I might write "How lovely that we met again." (OK, I hardly ever say "lovely", but that's beside the point.) But it would sound odd to say, during our meeting, "We met again", because the meeting is not entirely in the past at that time.
regards
Laura
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I agree that "At last I find you!" sounds a bit stagey. I can see a rationale for the distinction ... to say, during our meeting, "We met again", because the meeting is not entirely in the past at that time.

Interesting. I'd never thought about it that way. But what about "I win" or "You lose"? The winner of a game or fight often declares victory with these little phrases, and this happens after it's become clear who won it. I suppose once you win, you are no longer winning. Perhaps, this is an exception?
lemmings
Could anyone enlighten me on the whole conundrum, especially with regard to the difference in nuance between "I(?ve) found you!" and "I find you!"?

Would you say that he spoke in a relatively normal tone of voice, or was it a sort of comical, stagey, dramatic tone? Perhaps with a mock foreign accent?

He didn't appear to be particularly comical or stagey, no, but it was like a sigh of relief. Maybe all the hardship he'd gone through justifies the use of an unusual tense?
I looked to see if somehow this was an identifiable quotation. "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life, at last I've found ... last I find you" into a song of theirs; that's the normal tense there for the conditional, "when I find..."

Thank you for doing all that. So would you say in Little Red Riding Hood the huntsman who utters the line in question is also being a bit dramatic?
BTW I remember coming across the same line in Jerry McGuire: http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~st96732c/hw7.htm
lemmings
Children playing hide-and-seek, when they find a buddy in hiding, call out things like, "I(‘ve) found you!" (past or present ... on the whole conundrum, especially with regard to the difference in nuance between "I(‘ve) found you!" and "I find you!"?

I think you could say "Well, we met again!."
In both cases (meet/met,find/found), the present tense sounds more tentative, the past more conclusive. For the past, it's as if the speaker were going to continue with some plan or program, and for the present, the speaker isn't sure what's to take place next.

But that's more of a feeling than a meaning.

john
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No, not quite. A famous old story like that might have been the source of later imitations and staginess. But as I said, I don't think that's the source; I don't have any reason to believe that generations of people quoted that particular line. Unlike another exchange in that story, "Grandma, what big teeth you have!" "The better to eat you with, my dear!"
No, I think that line in the Grimm story possibly reflected the slightly odd turns of phrase you get when translating folk tales from one language into another. Sometimes the grammar from the first language gets preserved.
Or, it's just an old way of saying the thing in English. Maybe it's one of those Irish or Scottish things, they sometimes use slightly different tenses and constructions than England.
BTW I remember coming across the same line in Jerry McGuire: http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~st96732c/hw7.htm

Hmm, yes. I'm not familiar with that movie. Modern-day USA, apparently. I'm not sure what to make of it. Hearing it, the inflection, might add a clue.

Best Donna Richoux
Children playing hide-and-seek, when they find a buddy in hiding, call out things like, "I(‘ve) found you!" (past or present ... on the whole conundrum, especially with regard to the difference in nuance between "I(‘ve) found you!" and "I find you!"?

Even when they're not written with an exclamation mark, there's a degree of emphasis in usages such as, "We meet again", "At last I find you", or, "I win", that isn't there in their past-tense equivalents. (I can't think of a past-tense equivalent I'd use for, "We meet again", to be honest. It's not something I'd say without my tongue firmly in my cheek. I'd feel as though I ought to be stroking a white cat and starting the sentence with, "So, Mr Bond...").

In the specific case you mentioned, I think there's also something else going on. There's a narrative form of English sometimes used, describing past events in the present tense, which I think is implicitly what's being used here. For example.
"Just WHERE have you been? I wake up, and the house is empty. Your coat is missing, so I decide that you've probably already gone shopping. I get in the car and head into town. I look in all your favourite shops, but you're nowhere to be seen. I phone your sister, but she hasn't see you. Eventually I get hungry, so I head in here for a sandwich - and at last I find you!"
Even without all the other words, "At last" carries overtones of the extended search (and the sentence doesn't sound right without it; "I find you" just isn't something I'd expect to hear). "I've found you" doesn't have the same overtones - yes, I was looking for you, but for all you know, this could have been the first place I looked.

Cheers - Ian
Interesting. I'd never thought about it that way. But what about "I win" or "You lose"? The winner of a ... become clear who won it. I suppose once you win, you are no longer winning. Perhaps, this is an exception?

Not necessarily... 'the winning horse', for example, is still 'winning' after it has won.
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