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Mood, Aspect, Modality RevisitedNew Answers to Old Questions$
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Joanna Blaszczak, Anastasia Giannakidou, Dorota Klimek-Jankowska, and Krzysztof Migdalski

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226363523

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226363660.001.0001

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TAM Coding and Temporal Interpretation in West African Languages

TAM Coding and Temporal Interpretation in West African Languages

(p.6) Chapter One TAM Coding and Temporal Interpretation in West African Languages
Mood, Aspect, Modality Revisited

Anne Mucha

Malte Zimmermann

University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses the temporal interpretation in two West African languages: Hausa and Medumba. These two languagtes differ significantly in their grammatical coding of tense, aspect, and modality (TAM). Hausa is a tenseless language, in which tense is not grammatically marked, whereas Medumba is a graded-tense language and as such it has a rich system of temporal morphemes expressing fine-grained temporal distinctions such as recent past, remote past, current future, and remote future. The authors say that Hausa does not have a linguistic cateogry of tense. Rather, the temporal interpretation in Hausa is determined by Aktionsart, aspect, and pragmatic principles. In Medumba the graded-tense effects are not due to the presence of multiple tense morphemes, and the apparent multiple temporal markers belong to different categories, including tense, aspect, and modality, which interact in complex ways to give rise to many temporal interpretations. Both Hausa and Medumba express future-oriented readings with a modal element, showing that there is no category ‘future tense’ in these languages. The chapter has a number of theoretical implications that address directly the ‘mismatches’ between notional and morphological categories.

Keywords:   temporal interpretation, Hausa, Medumba, TAM

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