Cainntear wrote:That's not quite how descriptive grammar works.
It absolutely is, and what you're arguing is descriptive grammar is absolutely nothing of the sort. Your argument that the past perfect does work the same way it does in German and other continental European languages is purely prescriptive grammar.
You'll need to explain to me how it can be prescriptive of me to believe that all the major descriptive reference grammars of English and all the English course books I've used in my teaching informed by descriptive grammars and corpora are correct about the majority usage of the language.
First up, it's possible that you are a speaker of a minority dialect where the past perfect works that way -- if so, descriptive linguistics would describe your usage as valid, but rare. You did not criticise Iversen for using a dialectal form you didn't like, you went off on a borderline-racist rant saying that he was absolutely wrong, and that your way was the only way.
The dialect spoken on the West Coast isn't a minority dialect in any sense of the word. If anything it's the unmarked form of General American.
A: there are many west coasts. To me, "the west coast" means Glasgow but I wouldn't presume to use it that way here, as this is an international forum.
B: if the rule as you describe it was something that occurred across the whole US west coast, not only would it be noted in the English teaching literature, but all English-speakers would be comfortable with it, because a whole pile of our modern media content comes from California, and we'd all be exposed to it. But there is not a single native speaker here who has defended your rule as natural, and there are several of us who have said that it just sounds wrong to us.
So while it is possible that in your particular region, there is a pattern that matches what you claim, but it is neither "West Coast US English" or "General US English", and it would be very much a minority usage.
Secondly, what a native speaker says in English is real usage, when they are not giving conscious thought to the process of speaking. An example you invent expressly to describe a rule you believe is true is led by the rule, not your intuitive grasp of the language -- that makes it not real usage. This is why descriptive linguistics examines millions of words of language, rather than just the grammarian stating the rules as he believes them to be.
I'm providing further examples of the exact same type of construction that came up in OP's question, which is real usage even if you try to weasel out of it with your argument you're making right now.
The explanation for the sentence in the OP's message is exactly what everyone but you has said:
saw the joy -- past
my face had radiated last spring -- past perfect, indicating that this occurred prior to seeing.
You invented your own sentences to support your own alternative analysis of this. You're allowed to do that, but you'll need to supply some kind of evidence that your analysis (which everyone thinks is wrong) is right.
... when you combine the perfect aspect with the past tense you are explicitly moving it to the past. You cannot move the present perfect or the past perfect to the future with a plain adverbial:
But when you combine perfect aspect with past tense it doesn't become a past perfect tense, it's a past tense with perfect aspect. It doesn't stop being aspect and start being tense because you combined aspect with tense.
Yes, and perfect aspect denotes "completed before". Add the past tense to the perfect aspect and you get "completed before a particular point in the past".
It doesn't matter whether you call these tense and aspect or cabbages and peas -- past perfect (or past+perfect if you prefer) indicates that an action took place before a point in the past.