Beyond Aspect

The Expression of Discourse Functions in African Languages

Edited by Shahar Shirtz

Certain grammatical elements help hearers know how propositions are conceptually related: Does a given proposition advance the foregrounded event line, or not? Initiate versus continue an event chain? Indicate that one proposition belongs to a different "mental space" from the previous one? Provide background information? Studies in this volume show that African languages sometimes support, but often refute the idea that perfective aspect or past tense marks the narrative event line. Rather, languages may employ clause level constructions, conjunctions or connectives, tonal melodies on verbs or subjects, specialized auxiliaries, special verb forms and even dependent clause and imperfective aspect forms. Often, correlation of such grammatical elements with the event line is a subcase of a more general function. Analyses in this volume contribute to developing a typology of the expression of discourse functions, a field of research which has so far been minimally addressed from a typological perspective.


Shahar Shirtz is an assistant professor in the ASU Department of English's program in linguistics and applied linguistics / TESOL.

Praise for this book

Thanks to the editors’ effort in setting up comparative concepts, the scope of this book doubtlessly goes far beyond African linguistics and should interest descriptive linguists, typologists, as well as specialists of discourse studies.... This book may herald a breakthrough in the study of the grammar-discourse interface.

Stéphane Robert Language
Cover of "Beyond Aspect"
Date published
John Benjamins

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