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Aspectual pairing and aspectual classes in Abui

  • František Kratochvíl ORCID logo EMAIL logo , David Moeljadi , Benidiktus Delpada , Václav Kratochvíl and Jiří Vomlel

Abstract

This paper describes the aspectual classes in Abui, a Papuan language of the Timor-Alor-Pantar family. Abui innovated a system of aspectual stem pairing, realized by consonant mutation, vowel grading, and rime mutation. Although stem pairing is widespread (about 61% of the verbs alternate), about 38% of our 1,330 verb sample are unpaired and immutable. Abui verbal stems combine with aspectual affixes, adverbs and auxiliary verbs, whose distribution is used here together with the stem types to describe aspectual classes, which are understood as lexicalizations of transitional possibilities of lexical items (e.g. inchoative-stative vs. inchoative-gradual.inchoative-stative). The paper takes the bidimensional approach to aspect distinguishing between properties associated with the perfective-imperfective system and other aspectual marking (cf. Sasse, Hans-Jürgen. 2002. Recent activity in the theory of aspect: accomplishments, achievements, or just non-progressive state? Linguistic Typology 6(2). 199–271). Combining the features of both types of aspectual marking, we construct in a bottom-up fashion the aspectual classes in Abui and also show that these may be further refined if contextual features such as valency or degree of change (affectedness) were included. A characteristic feature of the Abui system is the elaborate system of stative-inchoative verbs sensitive to scalar and change properties (e.g. instant vs. gradual). Abui telic verbs show sensitivity to the properties of the resulting state and are formally associated with stem alternation.


Corresponding author: František Kratochvíl, Department of Asian Studies, Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic, E-mail:

Funding source: Czech Science Foundation

Award Identifier / Grant number: 20-18407S

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the hospitality of the Abui community and in particular of the families of Timoteus Lanma and Vinsen Yetimauh, our Abui teachers. George Saad, Marian Klamer, Joseph E. Emonds, Boban Arsenijević, and Joanna Sio have offered important insights on this paper during its various stages. Finally, we thank the anonymous reviewers as well as the editors of this issue Thera Crane, Johanna Nichols, and Bastian Persohn for their valuable input.

  1. Research funding: This research was supported by the Czech Science Foundation grant 20-18407S Verb Class Analysis Accelerator for Low-Resource Languages – RoboCorp.

  2. Author contribution: F. Kratochvíl was responsible for the drafting of the paper and the Abui analysis. B. Delpada contributed his linguistic expertise of a native speaker of Abui and co-authored earlier drafts of this paper. V. Kratochvíl and J. Vomlel developed an automated system to explore Abui aspectual classes and D. Moeljadi developed means to extract aspectual data from the corpus. The details of this workflow will be reported in a separate publication.

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Published Online: 2021-09-11
Published in Print: 2021-09-27

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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