Tomorrow/Yesterday Gloss

Hello all!

I need a nice concise gloss for two terms. One refers to yesterday and today, i.e. one day removed from present, and the other refers to a day two days removed from present, i.e. day before yesterday and day after tomorrow. I know I’ve seen a nice gloss for this situation in a paper, but can’t find it. Has anyone seen this before?



Hi @Grant!

Could you be looking for hodiernal and hesternal?

Apparently people use “pre-” and “post-” with these as well, to mark a two day stretch.

Thanks! I think I might get some dirty looks if I use this since it’s not really a tense…


Out of curiosity is this an Indo-Aryan language? Hindi has this too :slight_smile:

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Nope, Papuan. I’m pretty sure the gloss I remember was in an Australian language. There has to be a specific term for this! But my googling skills have failed so far, and it’s not urgent enough yet to start digging into primary literature…

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Hi! I first became acquainted with this phenomenon thanks to K. David Harrison’s book When Languages Die (2007), which illustrates it with an example from Aneityum (p. 89). Unfortunately no specific linguistic term is given, only explanations in plain English. Anyway, I find it pretty cool!

I did some searching and while I still can’t give you a good answer, I’ve found a relevant paragraph in Robert Botne’s chapter “Remoteness Distinctions” in The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspect (ed. Robert I. Binnick, 2012). This chapter deals with verbs only, but it makes reference to languages which have a tense that essentially means ‘yesterday or tomorrow’. Botne (p. 538) uses the terms “one-day-away” and “more-than-one-day-away”. See the whole page here. These are not really that concise but that’s all I could find.

By the way, I assume you meant to write “tomorrow” and not “today” in the first line. In that chapter, Botne proposes the name “biduonal” for a tense that means ‘earlier today or yesterday’.


Dang it! Yes of course you’re right; I meant “tomorrow”. Thank you for the great reference. It looked like I’ll have to do some digging.

In Eibela, my language of study, the term ali would be the ‘yesterday/tomorrow’ term, and the related ali eneli would be ‘day.before.yesterday/day.after.tomorrow’. As far as I can tell eneli has no independent meaning. These are clausal adverbials and not a verbal tense inflection. @aryaman Do you know how ‘yesterday/tomorrow’ is glossed in Hindi?


Here’s a passage from Dixon’s third volume of Basic Linguistic Theory, under a section on temporal shifters (p.20)

"…we do find languages—particularly in New Guinea—with one word referring to a certain time in the past and also the corresponding time in the future. Yimas (Lower Sepik family; Foley 1991: 110) provides a canonical instance. It has:

(25) NarN ‘one day removed (yesterday and tomorrow)’
urakrN ‘two days removed (day before yesterday and day after tomorrow)’
tnwantŋ ‘three days removed’
kamprañcŋ ‘four days removed’
manmañcŋ ‘five days removed’

The actual time referred to is distinguished by the obligatory tense choice
on the verb. Similar systems are found in other Papuan languages, including
Alamblak (Bruce 1984: 86) and Kobon (Davies 1981: 140–1, 287)."

This doesn’t answer your glossing question, but you could check those grammars. Dixon’s own approach is to write glossing terms out the long way.


Thank you! I will definitely look into those grammars.