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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Tense and Aspect in the Mòfòlí Dialect of Yorùbá Add Dissertation
Author: Felix Fábùnmi Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, African Languages and Literatures
Completed in: 2006
Linguistic Subfield(s): Morphology; Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Yoruba

Abstract: This study examined the syntax of tense and aspect system of Mòfòlí, a
dialect of Yorùbá, spoken in the Plateau State of the Republic of Bénin. It
also illustrated various forms of interpretations that could be adduced to
tense and aspect in the context of the Mòfòlí linguistic communication
milieu and contrasted them with what obtained in the Standard Yorùbá. This
contrastive effort was with a view to examining the question of the
sensitivity or otherwise of Mòfòlí verbs to specific aspectual and tense
notions, an issue that had been a subject of contention among the Yorùbá

The research methodology involved collection of data through oral
interviews with about forty native speakers of the Mòfòlí dialect whose
age bracket ranged between twenty-five and eighty-four. This is with a view
to be able to sample people of varying age-grades, and randomly sample
within the dialectal area of Mòfòlí. This was supported by Ibadan
400-wordlist and a set of relevant self-generated questions. Library and
archival researches which provided the requisite review of literature on
the grammatical formatives in Yorùbá were also used. The analysis of data
was carried out within the theoretical framework of Government and Binding

The finding showed that the interpretation of tense and aspect of some
forms of the Mòfòlí verbs could reflect the notion of events, points of
reference and moments of speech, which could ultimately instantiate the
binarity of future/non-future for tense and perfect/non-perfect for aspect.
The markers involved in the standard Yorùbá were á/yóò/óò/ó/máa (neutra),
á máa (imperfective progressive aspect), á máa/ma máa (imperfective
habitual aspect), á ti máa/ti ma máa (perfective aspect continuous), á ti/ó
ti/ti máa (perfective aspect past), ń (progressive aspect); while those of
the Mòfòlí were á / mée (neutra), í mée (imperfective progressive
aspect), éé mée (imperfective habitual aspect), í ti mée /éé ti
mée (perfective aspect beginning), à ti/ti mée (perfective aspect
ending) and ín/ń (progressive aspect). The study also found that temporal
order was a fundamental tool for the notion and identification of tense and
aspect. Thus, the study was able to demystify a number of key syntactic
misconceptions hitherto associated with Yorùbá tense and aspect. For
instance, it was discovered that the controversies on the sources and
status of the syllabic nasal, which also marks the progressive aspect, were
unnecessary because the inherent forms of ń in Mòfòlí pointed to their
proto status. In addition, the study showed that tense in standard Yorùbá
and Mòfòlí is not synonymous with a morphological representation of the
opposition present-past; and that an across-the-board morphological
application of the implications of the analysis of tense and aspect to
Mòfòlí (as in English) will invariably lead to syntactic inaccuracy.

The study concluded that although tense was not overtly marked in Mòfòlí,
time reference was sometimes lexicalized by the use of deictic adverbials.