Natural Language Semantics 21 (3):219-276 (2013)

Abstract
In recent years, our understanding of how tense systems vary across languages has been greatly advanced by formal semantic study of languages exhibiting fewer tense categories than the three commonly found in European languages. However, it has also often been reported that languages can sometimes distinguish more than three tenses. Such languages appear to have ‘graded tense’ systems, where the tense morphology serves to track how far into the past or future a reported event occurs. This paper presents a formal semantic analysis of the tense-aspect system of Gĩkũyũ , a Northeastern Bantu language of Kenya. Like many languages of the Bantu family, Gĩkũyũ appears to exhibit a graded tense system, wherein four grades of past tense and three grades of future tense are distinguished. I argue that the prefixes traditionally labeled as ‘tenses’ in Gĩkũyũ exhibit important differences from tenses in languages like English. Although, like tenses in English, these ‘temporal remoteness prefixes’ in Gĩkũyũ introduce presuppositions regarding a temporal parameter of the clause, in Gĩkũyũ these presuppositions concern the ‘event time’ of the clause directly, rather than the ‘topic time’. Consequently, the key difference between Gĩkũyũ and languages like English lies not in how many tenses are distinguished, but in whether tense-like features are able to modify other, lower verbal functional projections in the clause
Keywords Tense  Graded tense  Maximize Presupposition  Bantu  Gĩkũyũ  Kikuyu
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11050-012-9092-3
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,593
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Elements of Symbolic Logic.Hans Reichenbach - 1947 - London: Dover Publications.
Nominal and Temporal Anaphora.Barbara H. Partee - 1984 - Linguistics and Philosophy 7 (3):243--286.

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Past Time Reference in a Language with Optional Tense.M. Bochnak - 2016 - Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (4):247-294.
Temporal Interpretation in Hausa.Anne Mucha - 2013 - Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (5):371-415.
Past Interpretation and Graded Tense in Medumba.Anne Mucha - 2017 - Natural Language Semantics 25 (1):1-52.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2013-03-10

Total views
61 ( #179,169 of 2,462,067 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #448,768 of 2,462,067 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes