Tid: Torsdagen 15 februari 2018, kl 15:00-17:00
Plats: C307, Södra huset, Frescati

Postseminarium följer direkt efter seminariet i institutionens pentry.


This talk explores a morphosyntactic phenomenon found in the under-described Bantu language Luguru (classified as G35) spoken by 403 602 people in central Tanzania (MLT 2009). The phenomenon that is the topic of this talk concerns the TAM formative tsa, see example (1).The formative seems to bear a referential meaning, similar to ‘at a specific time’ and it is related to definiteness. Compare nigenda ‘I went’ with tsanigenda ‘at that time/because I went’. Similarly, the influence of tsa can be illustrated with the sentences nikala ‘I sat’ and tsanikala ’I sat at that point in time’ (which also means I’m not sitting anymore).In the only existing grammatical sketch of Luguru, there is a comparable particle (zaa) restricting the event to one determinate moment in the past (Mkude 1974: 95-95).This is in alignment with Besha’s description of the tenses in another Tanzanian Bantu language, namely Shambala. Besha divides the TAM markers into dependent and independent formatives, i.e. the dependent ones can only co-occur with a ‘definite’ determiner such as ‘this year’ while the independent ones can only co-occur with ‘indefinite’ ones such as ‘a long time ago’ (Besha 1989: 188-190).

For tsa in Luguru, there appear to be no restrictions concerning the lexical aspect of the verb, but like the independent formatives in Shambala, it cannot be combined with the indefinite adverbial mwande ‘long ago’.The reason for this is that ‘long ago’ is undecided and tsa requires a determinate moment in the past.  Tsa occurs with other temporal adverbials for the past if they have an exact temporal reference such as ‘in the year which past’. Interestingly enough, when mwande ‘long ago’ is used with a demonstrative and thus ‘specified’ as a determinate time (although long ago), the tsa is allowed: Aho mwande, tsahne munu.’Once upon a time there was a person’. Our data prove that the particle tsa, apart from being a marker of the past tense, is also a marker of definiteness in the verb.

Luguru speaker evm-6024
(1) Tsakwiona                                          miwani?
PART[1]-2SG-4-see-FV        4-glasses
‘(Was there any time when) you saw the glasses?’

Besha, R. M. (1989). A study of tense and aspect in Kishambala. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag.
Mkude, D. J. (1974). A Study of Kiluguru Syntax with Special Reference to the Transformational History of Sentences with Permuted Subject and Object. University of London, London.
MLT (Mradi wa Lugha za Tanzania; Languages of Tanzania Project). 2009. Atlasi ya lugha za Tanzania. Dar es Salaam: Mradi wa Lugha za Tanzania, Chuo Kikuu cha Dar es Salaam.

[1] Given that it may also be independently written, it is glossed a particle here.

Varmt välkomna!
Richard Kowalik