Hey everybody, I am Matthew and I am American and I study English in my free time.

I bought the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language and I have been trying my best to plow my way through it from page one. However, I am extremely confused by one passage in particular, the passage on the "Omissibility of the perfect". I will type a paragraph from the passage:


The contrast between the perfect and non-perfect takes on more significane when Tsit is of relatively long duration, especially with "as soon as" and (to a lesser extent) "before". Thus while the perfect is omissible in "She left the country as soon as she had completed her thesis (punctual Tsit), it is not omissible in "She left the country as soon as she had written her thesis" (where the thesis-writing situation is too long to be compared with the country-leaving one). Similarly "She left the country before she had written her thesis" allows (and indeed suggests) that she had started writing when she left and is thus not equivalent to "She left the country before she wrote her thesis.", which indicateds that the leaving preceded teh whole of the thesis writing.
I am a native speaker of English, so I intuitively pick up the meaning in bold from a sentence spoken as follows:

She left the country before she had written her thesis.

But, following the rules and the T2r< T2o/T1r< T1o/Td diagram, I get confused, because I don't see how conceptually this could equate to the activity starting before but ending after the simple past activity. The combination of the before and the past perfect seems like a paradox.

I am feeling really stupid right now, and I need someone who hopefully has read this book and understands it better than me to explain this too me in terms of the Ts with subscript.

I have looked all over the internet and I can find no resources that cover this topic, so I need some help on this please!
BrodieSWRThe combination of the before and the past perfect seems like a paradox.
When you consider only the usual uses of the past perfect, it is a paradox. But this combination is a special use which indicates the interruption of one action by another, or, stated differently, the non-completion of one action because of another, interfering action. For previous discussions (on this forum) of "before" with the past perfect, see before past perfect tense , past tense

I have no idea about the meaning of those wicked-looking subscripts because I'm not familiar with that book, so I can't help you there. I suspect that those mathematics-like formulations are merely a very rigorous and formal way of saying much of what was said in our discussions here. Emotion: smile

CJ
Hi, Brodie.

You might have better luck posting this in the Linguistics Forum, particularly since you're looking for respondants familiar with your "formula."

where the thesis-writing situation is too long to be compared with the country-leaving one

This seems to be the crux of the matter, but I'm not familiar with your code. Sorry.

Welcome to English Forums! - A.

Edit. Hi, CJ,

There was nobody home when I read this! I can't believe I spent 23 minutes thinking about it! - A.
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AvangiI can't believe I spent 23 minutes thinking about it!
Hee! That's nothing. I spend months thinking about some things! Emotion: smile

CJ