Time, space, modality, and (inter)subjectivity: Futures in isiNdebele and other Nguni languages

Thera Marie Crane, Msuswa Petrus Mabena

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Perhaps more than any other tense, expressions of futurity are intricately linked to modality: the future is inherently uncertain. This paper explores the outcomes of future markers grammaticalized from ‘come’ and ‘go’ in isiNdebele and several other South African Nguni Bantu languages, and shows that their semantic and pragmatic functions can mark contrasts in time, space, and modality, and can be used both subjectively and intersubjectively. Multiple factors influence the choice and interpretation of isiNdebele future markers in different contexts. These factors can all reasonably be traced to developments from ‘come’ and ‘go’, but the semantic and pragmatic force of these markers differ significantly, depending on context. Because different contrasts are emphasized in different contexts, there is significant functional overlap of ‘come’ and ‘go’ futures, despite their different origins and cognitive frames. Cross-linguistic distinctions are observed in the systems of future marking across South African Nguni languages, suggesting that even in a group of closely related languages that are often in heavy contact with one another, significant semantic and pragmatic differences can be maintained. More research is needed to uncover the extent of these differences and to understand how any differences are maintained and dealt with in multilingual discourse.
Originalspråkengelska
TidskriftSouth African Journal of African Languages
Volym39
Nummer3
Sidor (från-till)291-304
Antal sidor14
ISSN0257-2117
DOI
StatusPublicerad - 29 nov. 2019
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad

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