Title
Present and perfect in Bantu: the case of Lingalá Present and perfect in Bantu: the case of Lingalá
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
Publication type
article
Publication
Dordrecht ,
Subject
Linguistics
Source (journal)
Journal of African languages and linguistics. - Dordrecht
Volume/pages
30(2009) :1 , p. 21-43
ISSN
0167-6164
ISI
000269457900003
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
In the study of tense-aspect systems in the Bantu languages, there appears to be a lack of agreement over basic issues in analyzing different inflectional classes. In this paper, we address forms of temporal predication in Lingála's present-time verbal paradigm. Presenting an analysis along the lines of Cognitive Grammar, we challenge the received interpretation of a verb form with -í in Lingála, as well as of its cognates in other Bantu languages, traditionally taken to mark past tense, notably with dynamic verbs. We claim that the perfect/anterior meaning of this -í form with dynamic verbs should be treated in terms of the cognitive strategies speakers have available for dealing with the epistemic problem inherent in observing and reporting nonstative events simultaneously. Accordingly, dynamic verbs taking the -í form should be analyzed together with its use with statives, instead of seeing both types as semantically unrelated. We therefore argue for, and develop, an integrated analysis, which can single-handedly account for both dynamic verbs and stative ones. In schematic terms, we propose that the temporal reference of the -í form, whose aspect is perfect, is present rather than past, even if notions of pastness may be involved in the background conceptualization.
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