The roles of dissociative and (non-)completive morphology in structuring Totela (Bantu) narratives

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In Totela narratives, infinitive-based ‘narrative’ morphology alternates with forms that are inflected for tense and aspect. While narrative morphology can be used with verbs depicting sequential events, inflected forms can be used with predicates of both non-sequential and sequential events. This paper argues that when inflected forms appear, especially in contexts where narrative morphology might also be appropriate, they play important roles in signaling narrative structure. The three most common categories of inflected verbs in narratives are examined, namely forms indicating ‘completion’, ‘non-completion’, and ‘dissociation’. Dissociative marking appears at the beginning and ending of a narrative, and frames it by shifting the cognitive domain to a world, separate from the world of telling, where listener belief can be suspended to include narrative events. Inside that world, Completive and Non-completive marking is used to reflect story-internal reality, to provide structure to the narrative, and to direct listener responses.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeyond Aspect : The expression of discourse functions in African languages
EditorsDoris L. Payne, Shahar Shirtz
Number of pages32
PublisherJohn Benjamins
Publication date2015
ISBN (Print)9789027267870
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameTypological Studies in Language
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company

Fields of Science

  • 6160 Other humanities
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Narrative
  • Tense
  • Aspect
  • Bantu languages

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