The Perfect in Gã

Authors

Keywords:

perfect, Gã, grammaticalization, past tense, aspect

Abstract

This paper investigates the meaning and distribution of the perfect in Gã (Niger-Congo, Kwa). Data from natural speech and elicitation reveals that in addition to uses of the perfect that have been established cross-linguistically, Gã makes use of the perfect for the predication of qualities (perfect of quality), for overtly signalling a change of state (inchoative perfect) and for marking iterative, habitual or predictable events (sequential perfect). A polysemous view of the perfect is advanced, and the semantic element of relevance is proposed as constituting the semantic core of the perfect. The paper also shows that the Gã perfect may be in the nascent stages of grammaticalization to a perfective or past tense, as it is now possible to use the perfect with hodiernal and prehodiernal temporal adverbs. The paper’s significance lies in its documentation of an ongoing grammaticalization process that is uncommon in Niger-Congo and a novel use of the perfect in the sequential perfect, which has not been attested cross-linguistically.

References

Ga Nileegbɛ 3B. Bureau of Ghana Languages: Accra.

Binnick, Robert I. 2006. “Used to and Habitual Aspect in English.” Style 40(1-2):33-45.

Bybee, Joan. Revere Perkins, and William Pagliuca. 1994. The Evolution of Grammar: Tense, Aspect and Modality in the Languages of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Campbell, Akua. 2017. A Grammar of Gã.

Casely-Hayford, Leslie. 2018. Wumpini. Accra: Sedco

Comrie, Bernard. 1976. Aspect. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Copple, Mary. 2011. “Tracking the constraints on a grammaticalizing perfect(ive).” Language Variation and Change, 23:163–191.

Dahl, Östen.1985. Tense and Aspect Systems. Oxford: Blackwell.

Dahl, Östen. 2000. “The Tense-Aspect Systems of European Languages in a Typological Perspective.” Tense and Aspect in the Languages of Europe (Empirical Approaches to Language Typology 20–6), edited by Östen Dahl, 3–25. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Dahl, Östen, and Eva Hedin. (2000). “Current Relevance and Event Reference.” In Tense and Aspect in the Languages of Europe (Empirical Approaches to Language Typology 20–6), edited by Östen Dahl, 3–25. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Inoue, Kyoko. 1979. “An Analysis of the English Present Perfect.” Linguistics 17, 561 – 589.

Kiparsky, Paul. 2002. “Event Structure and the Perfect.” In The Construction of Meaning, edited

by D. I. Beaver, L. D. Casillas Martínez, B. Z. Clark, and S. Kaufmann, 113–136. Stanford: CSLI.

Lindstedt, Jouko. 2000. “The Perfect—Aspectual, Temporal and Evidential. In Tense and

Aspect in the Languages of Europe (Empirical Approaches to Language Typology 20–6), edited by Östen Dahl, 365–383. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Maslov, Jurij S. 1988. “Resultative, Perfect and Aspect.” In Typology of Resultative

Constructions, edited by V. P. Nedjalkov, 63–86. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Mittwoch, A. 2008. “The English Resultative Perfect and its Relationship to the

Experiential Perfect and the Simple Past Tense.” Linguistics and Philosophy 31:323–351.

Nedjalkov, Vladimir P., and Jaxontov, Sergej. Je.1988. “The Typology of Resultative

Constructions.” In Typology of Resultative Constructions, edited by V. P. Nedjalkov, 3–62. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Nishiyama, Atsuko and Jean-Pierre Koenig. 2006. “The Perfect in Context: A Corpus Study.” U.

Penn Working Papers in Linguistics, 12(1):265–278.

Portner, Paul. 2003. “The (Temporal) Semantics and (Modal) Pragmatics of the Perfect.”

Linguistics and Philosophy 26, 459–510.

Reichenbach, Hans. 1947. Elements of Symbolic Logic. New York: Macmillan.

Quarcoo, R.D. 2013. Shishijee Kpakpa. Deeman Publications.

Ritz, Marie-Eve. 2012. “Perfect Tense and Aspect.” The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspect,

edited by Robert I. Binnick, 1–31 Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ritz, Marie-Eve and Dulcie Engel. 2008. “Vivid narrative use” and the Meaning of the Present

Perfect in Spoken Australian English. Linguistics 46(1):131–160

DOI 10.1515/LING.2008.005

Smith, Carlota S. 2009. “Activities: States or Events?” In Text, Time, and Context: Selected

papers of Carlota S. Smith. Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy 87, edited by Richard.P. Meier, Helen Aristar-Dry and Emilie Destruel, 61–86. Dordrect: Springer.

Schwenter, Scott. 1994a. “The Grammaticalization of an Anterior in Progress: Evidence from

a Peninsular Spanish dialect.” Studies in Language 18(1):71–111.

Schwenter, Scott. 1994b. “‘Hot news’ and the Grammaticalization of Perfects.” Linguistics

:995–1028.

Squartini, Mario, and Pier Marco Bertinetto. 2000. “The Simple and Compound Past in

Romance Languages” In Tense and Aspect in the Languages of Europe (Empirical Approaches to Language Typology 20–6), edited by Östen Dahl, 403–439. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Downloads

Published

06/30/2022

How to Cite

Campbell, A. (2022). The Perfect in Gã. Ghana Journal of Linguistics, 11(1), 1–27. Retrieved from https://laghana.org/gjl/index.php/gjl/article/view/528