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The paper discusses verbal markers of the past tense with a meaning roughly charac-terizable as “past and not present” or “past with no present relevance”. This type of past time reference (labelled “discontinuous”) is opposed to standard past markers, which normally do not provide any information about the state of affairs in the present domain. Discontinuous past can be analyzed as a special cross-linguistically valid type of past tense marking. It occurs in a considerable amount of genetically unrelated languages of different areas (especially in Oceania and West Africa), though in cur-rent descriptions it may sometimes hide behind misleading terms or fall under the broad headings of “past” or “anterior”.