I am a native English speaker who generally only thinks about tenses in relation to the foreign languages I attempt to speak. I am neither grammarian nor linguist. So it only recently struck me that in English we often (mainly?) use the present perfect for actions that are still going on, e.g.
I have wanted to go to Peking since I was very small.
Meaning ‘I wanted to when I was small and I still want to’. In French, Italian or German this would be expressed quite differently, and the present tense of the auxiliary together with the past participle is general used in these languages as a straight-forward past tense. As the Wikipedia entry for Present Perfect says:
Analogous forms are found in some other languages and may also be described as present perfects although they often have other names such as the German Perfekt, the French passé composé and the Italian passato prossimo. They may also have different ranges of usage, in all three of the languages just mentioned, the forms in question serve as a general past tense, at least for completed actions.
Of course, the Present Perfect in English is sometimes used where the same tense may be used in other languages, e.g.
I have often visited the Louvre.
but differs in requiring a sense of continuation. For a specific time one must use the preterite/simple past:
I visited it only last week.
which is not demanded in French, Italian or German.
My question is how and when did this divergence or development occur in the evolution of the English language or in the languages from which it is derived? For example, does this derive from Anglo-Saxon or Norman French or did it develop later? Are there other European languages that have a usage more closely to that in English?