Article published in:Beyond Aspect: The expression of discourse functions in African languages
Edited by Doris L. Payne and Shahar Shirtz
[Typological Studies in Language 109] 2015
► pp. 23–52
Aspect and thematic clause combining in Maa (Nilotic)
The Maa (Maasai, Eastern Nilotic) n[HL]- verb prefix has been called a “Narrative tense” or a “Narrative” morpheme. Rigorous discourse study shows that though it can occur on sequential semantically perfective main events, it is not limited to marking narrative events. Overall it marks high thematic continuity between equally-ranked propositions. On the other hand, what has previously been called a “Past” and a “Perfective” affix category is a functional Perfect which marks entry into a cognitive space conceptually prior to an already-established cognitive space. The Maa Perfect is cognate with a non-tense/aspect “dependent” prefix system used to mark main event chains in the Teso-Turkana language cluster. This cognacy demonstrates the close conceptual connection between tense-aspect forms and clausal taxis.
Published online: 02 December 2015
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