Ana Krajinovic - PhD completion Seminar

Tense, mood and aspect expressions in Nafsan (South Efate) from a typological perspective.

In this talk I present the main findings of my PhD thesis, focusing on the meanings of realis/irrealis mood and perfect aspect in Nafsan (Vanuatu) and other Oceanic languages in a typological perspective. In order to analyze the meanings of the perfect aspect and the realis/irrealis mood in Nafsan, I studied the Nafsan grammar (Thieberger, 2006) and corpus by Thieberger (1995–2018), followed by my own fieldwork (Krajinovic╠ü, 2017b) which relied on semantic elicitation through storyboards and questionnaires. Regarding the perfect aspect, I found that the Nafsan marker pe is indeed a perfect marker similar to the English perfect, except that it has an additional meaning of change of state. I place the analysis of the Nafsan perfect in the debate about the cross-linguistic validity of iamitives, defined by the meaning of change of state and lacking English-style perfect functions by Olsson, 2013. Based on the Oceanic data, I show that the semantic definition of perfect aspect similar to the English perfect (Klein, 1994) is sufficient to account for additional perfect functions, without the need to posit the new iamitive category. Regarding the realis/irrealis distinction expressed by portmanteau subject markers in Nafsan, I have found that the “realis” category is semantically underspecified as it can occur in irrealis context that should be incompatible with realis meanings. I propose that “realis” subject markers are in fact only subject and person marking that occasionally receives realis meanings through pragmatic competition with the irrealis subject markers. In response to the debate about the cross-linguistic validity of the irrealis category (Bybee, 1998), I show that Oceanic languages provide evidence that irrealis is indeed a semantically meaningful category.

Note: This seminar will be presented by video.
Date: Tuesday, 4th October, 2019
Venue: Babel building (139), Room 407
Time: 4 pm