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Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus (SPiL Plus)

versión On-line ISSN 2224-3380
versión impresa ISSN 1726-541X


SAVIć, Stefan. The perfective and imperfective aspects in Xhosa. SPiL plus (Online) [online]. 2017, vol.52, pp.45-72. ISSN 2224-3380.

The present corpus study aims to investigate the semantics of the perfective and the imperfective aspects in Xhosa. In a large number of studies that investigate tense and aspect in the Nguni languages, the observations are mostly based on invented, context-free sentences, which do not necessarily reflect the complex semantics of these two categories. The data in the present study come from corpora, thus making it possible to test the study's hypothesis with examples from natural language use. At the same time, the instances that cannot be accounted for by this hypothesis provide evidence that can be used for its improvement. The present study tests the hypothesis that the perfective aspect denotes an eventuality that is conceived of as bounded or as an indivisible whole, and that the imperfective aspect represents an eventuality as durative or iterated. The data collected in this study consist of recent past perfective and imperfective verbs that are tested for their ability to hold true at more than one point in time. The underlying assumption is that, unlike durative and iterated ones, bounded events cannot hold true at more than one point in time. The results show that the perfective/imperfective opposition in Xhosa correlates to a large extent with the view of an eventuality as bounded. However, a significant number of the verbs analysed cannot be accounted for by this explanation. The choice of aspect in these cases points toward other factors, such as factuality, number of occurrences, information structure, and sequencing of eventualities.

Palabras clave : grammatical aspect; boundaries; Xhosa.

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