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Present and perfect in Bantu: the case of Lingála

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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 Lingala's present-time verbal paradigm. Presenting an analysis along the lines of Cognitive Grammar we challenge the received interpretation of a verb form with -i in Lingala, 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 -i 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 -i 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 -i 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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MLA
Brisard, Frank, and Michael Meeuwis. “Present and Perfect in Bantu: The Case of Lingála.” JOURNAL OF AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS 30.1 (2009): 21–43. Print.
APA
Brisard, Frank, & Meeuwis, M. (2009). Present and perfect in Bantu: the case of Lingála. JOURNAL OF AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS, 30(1), 21–43.
Chicago author-date
Brisard, Frank, and Michael Meeuwis. 2009. “Present and Perfect in Bantu: The Case of Lingála.” Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 30 (1): 21–43.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Brisard, Frank, and Michael Meeuwis. 2009. “Present and Perfect in Bantu: The Case of Lingála.” Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 30 (1): 21–43.
Vancouver
1.
Brisard F, Meeuwis M. Present and perfect in Bantu: the case of Lingála. JOURNAL OF AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS. 2009;30(1):21–43.
IEEE
[1]
F. Brisard and M. Meeuwis, “Present and perfect in Bantu: the case of Lingála,” JOURNAL OF AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 21–43, 2009.
@article{385493,
  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 Lingala's present-time verbal paradigm. Presenting an analysis along the lines of Cognitive Grammar we challenge the received interpretation of a verb form with -i in Lingala, 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 -i 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 -i 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 -i form, whose aspect is perfect, is present rather than past, even if notions of pastness may be involved in the background conceptualization.},
  author       = {Brisard, Frank and Meeuwis, Michael},
  issn         = {0167-6164},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {21--43},
  title        = {Present and perfect in Bantu: the case of Lingála},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/JALL.2009.003},
  volume       = {30},
  year         = {2009},
}

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