LINGUIST List 10.1176

Mon Aug 9 1999

Sum: Homophonous markers

Editor for this issue: Jody Huellmantel <>


  1. LEGER CATHERINE, Homophonous markers

Message 1: Homophonous markers

Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 10:17:40 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Homophonous markers

This is a summary of the answers to my query on homophonous markers for
progressive and future.

Last March, I submitted the following question to the Linguist List:
"In Haitian Creole, the marker for the progressive (imperfective) and
the marker for the future is homophonous. I was wondering if this is a
common phenomenon in the languages of the world." I would like to
thank the following people for their comments and answers: Bouhadde
Makhad, Susan Fischer, Tom Wachtel, Arsalan Kahnemuyipour, Vincent
DeCaen, Bill Palmer, Knut Olawsky, H. den Besten, Mikael Parkvall,
Ronald Kephart and Adriano Boaretto.

The results indicate that, in some languages, the marker for the
progressive and the marker for the future are homophonous. Susan
Fischer and Tom Wachtel, along with other people, mentioned English
(the marker /-ing/). Arsalan Kahnemuyipour informed me that, in
Persian. /mi/ is used to encode both the progressive and the
future. According to H. den Besten, in 20th century Negerhollands, the
present tense progressive (the marker /LO/LU/) is homophonous with one
of the two future markers. However, this case of homophony may be
accidental. Mikael Parkvall, referring to the results of a question
asked by Pier Marco Bertinetto, mentioned Icelandic, Kinyarwanda,
Dhegiha Siouan, dialectal Norwegian, Albanian, Somali, Nepalese,
Arabic and historically Finnish. Referring to Campbell (1991: 114), he
lists Athabaskan languages. Mikael Parvall also mentions many creoles:
Western Caribbean English creoles (Jamaican, etc.), Krio, Huyanese,
St. Thomas, Saramaccan, Louisiana, Lesser Antillean, Guianese, the
Portuguese creoles in Upper Guinea and in the Bight og Benin. He also
mentions Negerhollands (which may be a case of accidental homophony
according to H. den Besten), Papiamentu and some West African
languages like Kisi, Fante, Edo and Tiene. Dchaine (1991, manuscript,
University of Massachusetts) lists Owere Igbo and Mahou (Mandekan).

Here are some languages where the marker encoding the progressive and
the one encoding the future are not homophonous. According to Knut
Olawsky, in Dagbani (Niger-Congo: Gur, Ghana), the imperfective is
signaled by the suffix /di/ and the future marker is the prefix
/ni/. In Italian and in Mandarin Chinese, according to Adriano
Boaretto, the progressive and the future are encoded by two different

Catherine Leger
Graduate student
Universite du Quebec a Montreal
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