LINGUIST List 14.3258

Wed Nov 26 2003

Diss: Discourse Analysis: Wilson: 'Transparency ...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <>


  1. janetevelyn, Transparency and Spreading of Tense, Aspect, and Mood...

Message 1: Transparency and Spreading of Tense, Aspect, and Mood...

Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 23:17:45 -0500 (EST)
From: janetevelyn <>
Subject: Transparency and Spreading of Tense, Aspect, and Mood...

Institution: University of Texas at Arlington 
Program: Department of Linguistics 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2003 

Author: Janet E. Wilson 

Dissertation Title: Transparency and Spreading of Tense, Aspect, and
Mood in Kuche Narrative Discourse

Linguistic Field: Discourse Analysis 

Subject Language: Che (code: RUK)

Subject Language Family: Niger-Congo (code: )

Dissertation Director 1: Robert E. Longacre
Dissertation Director 2: David J. Silva
Dissertation Director 3: Shin Ja Hwang
Dissertation Director 4: Donald A. Burquest

Dissertation Abstract: 

Though clauses of Kuche can be grammatically marked-usually by verb
prefixes or auxiliary verbs-for tense and/or aspect and/or mood (TAM),
in discourse, very few clauses are actually marked for these
categories. Instead, TAM is often marked only once in a stretch of
text and is assumed to apply to every subsequent clause up to a
delimiting construction. This paper describes how certain grammatical
indicators of TAM are used in Kuche narrative discourse.

Four chapters of an oral history and one folk tale are tabulated for
the frequency of various TAM markings and interpretations. Number
grids and bar graphs indicate how the grammatical markings correlate
with the interpretations. The tabulation reveals that most clauses in
the narratives are totally unmarked for TAM, but these unmarked
clauses are not interpreted uniformly. In narratives that begin with
several clauses marked Perfective (by the verbal prefix ni-), most
clauses are interpreted as past perfective. In narratives that begin
with Perfective marked clauses (ni-) and Habitual marked clauses (verb
prefix ta-), most clauses are interpreted as past habitual. Clauses
of conversation and story dialog are tabulated in a similar fashion
and compared, on the one hand, with past perfective narratives and, on
the other hand, with past habitual narratives. Three distinct
patterns of use are observed.

A formal model for interpreting the TAM of Kuche clauses in narrative
is developed based on the five tabulated narratives plus five other
texts previously recorded and analyzed for other papers. In simple
terms, clauses of a narrative are like transparent layers of TAM
meaning, allowing the interpretation of early (marked) clauses to show
through. Some of the layers add further meaning, some add zero
meaning, but most do not obscure the TAM indicated earlier in the
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