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Kisikongo (Bantu, H16a) present-future isomorphism : a diachronic conspiracy between semantics and phonology

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Abstract
The North-Angolan Bantu language Kisikongo has a present tense (O-Rang- a; R=root) that is morphologically more marked than the future tense (O-R-a). We reconstruct how this typologically uncommon tense-marking feature came about by drawing on both historical and comparative evidence. Our diachronic corpus covers four centuries that can be subdivided in three periods, viz. (1) mid-17th, (2) late-19th/early-20th, and (3) late-20th/ early-21st centuries. The comparative data stem from several present-day languages of the “Kikongo Language Cluster.” We show that mid-17th century Kisikongo had three distinct constructions: O-R-a (with present progressive, habitual and generic meaning), O-R-ang-a (with present habitual meaning), and ku-R-a (with future meaning). By the end of the 19th century the last construction is no longer attested, and both present and future time reference are expressed by a segmentally identical construction, namely O- R-a. We argue that two seemingly independent but possibly interacting diachronic evolutions conspired towards such present-future isomorphism: (1) the semantic extension of an original present-tense construction from present to future leading to polysemy, and (2) the loss of the future prefix ku-, as part of a broader phenomenon of prefix reduction, inducing homonymy. To resolve the ambiguity, the O-R-ang-a construction evolved into the main present-tense construction.
Keywords
KIKONGO, TONE, Bantu, Kikongo Language Cluster, Kisikongo, historical corpus, linguistics, tense-aspect, present-future isomorphism

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MLA
Dom, Sebastian, et al. “Kisikongo (Bantu, H16a) Present-Future Isomorphism : A Diachronic Conspiracy between Semantics and Phonology.” JOURNAL OF HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS, vol. 10, no. 2, 2020, pp. 251–88, doi:10.1075/jhl.18030.dom.
APA
Dom, S., de Schryver, G.-M., & Bostoen, K. (2020). Kisikongo (Bantu, H16a) present-future isomorphism : a diachronic conspiracy between semantics and phonology. JOURNAL OF HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS, 10(2), 251–288. https://doi.org/10.1075/jhl.18030.dom
Chicago author-date
Dom, Sebastian, Gilles-Maurice de Schryver, and Koen Bostoen. 2020. “Kisikongo (Bantu, H16a) Present-Future Isomorphism : A Diachronic Conspiracy between Semantics and Phonology.” JOURNAL OF HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS 10 (2): 251–88. https://doi.org/10.1075/jhl.18030.dom.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Dom, Sebastian, Gilles-Maurice de Schryver, and Koen Bostoen. 2020. “Kisikongo (Bantu, H16a) Present-Future Isomorphism : A Diachronic Conspiracy between Semantics and Phonology.” JOURNAL OF HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS 10 (2): 251–288. doi:10.1075/jhl.18030.dom.
Vancouver
1.
Dom S, de Schryver G-M, Bostoen K. Kisikongo (Bantu, H16a) present-future isomorphism : a diachronic conspiracy between semantics and phonology. JOURNAL OF HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS. 2020;10(2):251–88.
IEEE
[1]
S. Dom, G.-M. de Schryver, and K. Bostoen, “Kisikongo (Bantu, H16a) present-future isomorphism : a diachronic conspiracy between semantics and phonology,” JOURNAL OF HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 251–288, 2020.
@article{8680691,
  abstract     = {{The North-Angolan Bantu language Kisikongo has a present tense (O-Rang- a; R=root) that is morphologically more marked than the future tense (O-R-a). We reconstruct how this typologically uncommon tense-marking feature came about by drawing on both historical and comparative evidence. Our diachronic corpus covers four centuries that can be subdivided in three periods, viz. (1) mid-17th, (2) late-19th/early-20th, and (3) late-20th/ early-21st centuries. The comparative data stem from several present-day languages of the “Kikongo Language Cluster.” We show that mid-17th century Kisikongo had three distinct constructions: O-R-a (with present progressive, habitual and generic meaning), O-R-ang-a (with present habitual meaning), and ku-R-a (with future meaning). By the end of the 19th century the last construction is no longer attested, and both present and future time reference are expressed by a segmentally identical construction, namely O- R-a. We argue that two seemingly independent but possibly interacting diachronic evolutions conspired towards such present-future isomorphism: (1) the semantic extension of an original present-tense construction from present to future leading to polysemy, and (2) the loss of the future prefix ku-, as part of a broader phenomenon of prefix reduction, inducing homonymy. To resolve the ambiguity, the O-R-ang-a construction evolved into the main present-tense construction.}},
  author       = {{Dom, Sebastian and de Schryver, Gilles-Maurice and Bostoen, Koen}},
  issn         = {{2210-2116}},
  journal      = {{JOURNAL OF HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS}},
  keywords     = {{KIKONGO,TONE,Bantu,Kikongo Language Cluster,Kisikongo,historical corpus,linguistics,tense-aspect,present-future isomorphism}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{2}},
  pages        = {{251--288}},
  title        = {{Kisikongo (Bantu, H16a) present-future isomorphism : a diachronic conspiracy between semantics and phonology}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/jhl.18030.dom}},
  volume       = {{10}},
  year         = {{2020}},
}

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