Chapter published in:Perfects in Indo-European Languages and Beyond
Edited by Robert Crellin and Thomas Jügel
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 352] 2020
► pp. 312–350
The perfect in North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic
This paper describes the form and function of the perfect in the North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic (NENA) dialects, a highly diverse subgroup of Neo-Aramaic originally spoken east of the Tigris river. After a short description of the expression of the perfective in § 1, a detailed classification of the various forms of the perfect is presented in § 2. Many of these forms have developed under the influence of the verbal system of Iranian languages of the area (§ 3). The perfect in NENA has a wide range of functions, some of them not commonly documented elsewhere, such as the use of the perfect to express the remote past and its use in presuppositional contexts (§ 4). Some of these functions have parallels in the function of the perfect in Iranian languages in contact with NENA (§ 5). Finally, an analysis is given of the NENA perfect within a Reichenbachian framework (§ 6). The common denominator of the diverse functions of the NENA perfect is the fact that the event is viewed from an indirect reference point and as a result the event is defocalized. The separation between the event and the reference point (e < r), which is the hallmark of the perfect, need not be temporal distance, but may be cognitive distance from the focus of attention due to the presuppositional information status of the event.
Keywords: Aramaic, Semitic, Iranian, Kurdish, ergative, defocalization, contact
Published online: 23 September 2020
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