Transparency and spreading of tense, aspect, and mood in Kuche narrative discourse
Though clauses of Kuche can be grammatically marked—usually by verb prefixes or auxiliary verbs—for tense and/or aspect and/or mood (TAM), in discourse, very few clauses are actually marked for these categories. Instead, TAM is often marked only once in a stretch of text and is assumed to apply to every subsequent clause up to a delimiting construction. This paper describes how certain grammatical indicators of TAM are used in Kuche narrative discourse.
Four chapters of an oral history and one folk tale are tabulated for the frequency of various TAM markings and interpretations. Number grids and bar graphs indicate how the grammatical markings correlate with the interpretations. The tabulation reveals that most clauses in the narratives are totally unmarked for TAM, but these unmarked clauses are not interpreted uniformly. In narratives that begin with several clauses marked Perfective (by the verbal prefix nì-), most clauses are interpreted as past perfective. In narratives that begin with Perfective marked clauses (nì-) and Habitual marked clauses (verb prefix tá-), most clauses are interpreted as past habitual. Clauses of conversation and story dialog are tabulated in a similar fashion and compared, on the one hand, with past perfective narratives and, on the other hand, with past habitual narratives. Three distinct patterns of use are observed.
A formal model for interpreting the TAM of Kuche clauses in narrative is developed based on the five tabulated narratives plus five other texts previously recorded and analyzed for other papers. In simple terms, clauses of a narrative are like transparent layers of TAM meaning, allowing the interpretation of early (marked) clauses to show through. Some of the layers add further meaning, some add zero meaning, but most do not obscure the TAM indicated earlier in the text.
0316: African literature