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Title: The Expression of Aspect in Sesotho
Authors: Motsei, Anastacia Sara
Keywords: African Languages
Niger-Congo Languages
Atlantic-Congo Languages
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Stellenbosch University
Abstract: The expression of aspect in Sesotho within the framework of the principles, properties and mechanisms of three different components of grammar, i.e. the syntactic, morphological and semantic components, has been established in a broader context. The application of the terms aspect and tense in the existing grammatical descriptions of the Sesotho verbs, however, has proved to be problematic. This is largely owing to the fact that these categories are established in Sesotho on the basis of notional distinctions. This study aims to examine comprehensively, firstly, the morphosyntactic system of Sesotho, in order to determine the range of categories that express grammatical aspect, which includes the Perfective and Imperfective aspects in Sesotho. The perfective-imperfective opposition is a particular area of focus in this study, and comprises the different tenses which are involved in the meaning of the situation types (activities, achievements, accomplishments and states). In this regard, questions relating to the distinctive properties of tense and aspect in Sesotho, namely: (i) the aspect categories that occur in the full range of tenses in Sesotho, (ii) the aspect categories that occur in deficient verb constructions, and (iii) the theoretical treatment of the relationship between aspect and the aspectual classes of verbs (activities, achievements, accomplishments and states) in Sesotho, undergo detailed examination and investigation in this study. Secondly, the study both defines and explores the theoretical frameworks pertaining to the analysis of: (i) the correlation between the Sesotho aspect system and the relationship between situation types and grammatical aspects in Sesotho, (ii) the distribution of aspectual classes of verbs with respect to grammatical aspect and temporal adjunct (for- adverbial and in- adverbial) categories in Sesotho, and (iii), the effect on telicity of certain complement categories on the inner temporal structure of aspectual verb classes. The study establishes the premise that the syntactic evidence for telic events in Sesotho usually turns on the feature of completion which involves the interaction of duration and a change of state. Therefore, this study aims to demonstrate that the existence and application of the durative adverbial provides syntactic evidence for atelic events. The argument for the causes and dynamics of the telic/atelic dichotomy, as approached in this study, is based on crucial shifts which are triggered by either completive or durative adverbials when appearing with situation types.
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