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The semantics of verbal morphology in central Tanzanian Bantu languages: a comparative study

The research project is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, 2016-2018

Researcher: Malin Petzell

In most Bantu languages, tense, aspect and mood [TAM] systems are typically very complex, covering numerous morphosyntactic categories. The lexical semantics of these TAM systems, especially in combination with verb properties, is an understudied area. The individual studies that do exist do not easily allow for cross-linguistic comparison even within the Bantu family. I will conduct a thorough analysis of the semantic construal of TAM notions and their grammatical encoding on the verb in the East Ruvu Bantu languages (Kagulu, Kami, Kwere, Kutu, Luguru and Zalamo).

The project will examine the TAM systems of the sample languages by studying the forms, their basic meanings, extended functions and distribution. The language data and analyses will enhance our understanding of Bantu languages and constitute a valuable cross-linguistic documentation of this particular area of grammar; they will also feed into the ongoing debates in theoretical linguistics on TAM, and the lexicon/grammar interface both within and beyond Bantu studies.

Moreover, the analytical tools that I will develop for the relevant types of language data (e.g. semantic verb property lists and their interaction with TAM markers) could serve as standard instruments to be integrated into future work on other languages, fostering Bantu comparative work at a larger scale. Finally, we do not know what lesser-studied languages can tell us about TAM in general and what implications there may be for linguistics more broadly.

Contact Information

Malin Petzell

Box 200, 405 30 Göteborg

Page Manager: Annika Andersson|Last update: 10/20/2015

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