Some of my favorite childhood movies are on TBS right now: Back to the Future Parts I, II, and III. I don’t know if they were good movies to watch when I was only a few years old, but they’ve always been my favorites. I think I’ve seen Part II enough times that I can quote most of the dialogue fairly accurately (which really annoys my sister, especially since she’s only seen it a few times).
I’ve always wondered what would happen to language if time travel were actually developed. Okay, I’m a geek–let me explain myself. The part I’m most interested in knowing about is how tenses would work. I would think that the current compliment that exists in our languages today wouldn’t cut it. Think about how confusing it would be to go to the future and talk about something that hasn’t happened yet, but will soon. Or, if we can change the outcome of the future (however unlikely that might be), and we have come across circumstances that existed differently in another timeline. It would just be a mess to get others to understand the concepts we’re trying to convey.
The only reason that we have the perfect tenses is because we have the ability right now to know about the past, or actions still occurring from the past, or continuing from the present into a set time in the future (but without much accuracy). If you assume a person in the future could have a good idea of what is to come, he could speak about this in a standard way that most people would comprehend.
So, I would imagine that over time another tense would develop, similar to the perfect tenses (has been, had been, will have been, etc). Sure, the future perfect might fit the bill in some cases, but it would ultimately conflict with other meanings.
This has just been running through my head for a couple of years now; I’ve finally written it down. Could be a good premise for a Science Fiction book about time travel. If I find time, I might write it.