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Quantitative Analysis of Narrative-Structuring Uses of Tense and Aspect in Totela

Abstract

This study aims to characterize both qualitatively and quantitatively the narrative uses of tense and aspect in Totela, an endangered Bantu language of Zambia. Most verbs describing sequential events appear with special "narrative" morphology; other tenses and aspects may be considered "marked", serving special purposes such as indicating episode boundaries. We report a logistic regression model confirming and refining cross-linguistic claims about extra-temporal roles of tense/aspect marking in narrative. Our methods for coding and statistical analysis facilitate more precise description and cross-linguistic comparison. Study results aslo call into question the validity of traditional Vendlerian Aktionsarten for categorizing Bantu verbs.
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