Chapter published in:Grammatical and Sociolinguistic Aspects of Ethiopian Languages
Edited by Derib Ado, Almaz Wasse Gelagay and Janne Bondi Johannessen †
[IMPACT: Studies in Language, Culture and Society 48] 2021
► pp. 367–387
The linguistic nature of expression of aspect in Ethiopian sign language
Research findings on the aspectual marking system in sign languages points towards diverse thinking. At first it was claimed that aspect marking is inflectional morphology. This, however, has been questioned on the grounds that it does not meet the basic criteria for inflectional status, and is in fact derivational or belonging to a highly iconic class of ideophonic morphology. It also has been argued that the system is neither inflectional nor derivational, but gestural. These different analytical perspectives are still a subject of discussion. This paper is a part of wider research on forms, meanings of the aspect marking system in Ethiopian Sign Language (EthSL) and examines the nature of the aspect marking system observed in EthSL in light of the ongoing discussions. Seven deaf language consultants of differing ages and genders were involved. McCarthy’s prosodic theory of nonconcatenative morphology was used as a theoretical framework for the analysis of the data. The analysed data refutes the gestural nature of the aspect marking system and points to the direction of inflectional morphology.
Keywords: aspect, sign language, Ethiopian Sign Language, EthSL, inflectional morphology
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Published online: 23 April 2021
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