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22.5: Case study- Perfect aspect in Baraïn (Chadic)

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    Baraïn is an East Chadic (Afroasiatic) language spoken by about 6,000 people in the Republic of Chad. Lovestrand (2012) discusses the contrast between perfect vs. perfective in Baraïn. He shows that the perfect form of the verb can be used for four of the five common uses of the perfect discussed above, specifically all but the experiential perfect. Examples of the four possible uses are presented in (25).

    (25)    a.    Resultative:
                     kà          gūsē          ándì
                     kà          gūs-     -ē   ándì
                     Sbj:3.m  go.out  prf  Andi
                     ‘He has left Andi (and has not returned).’

      b.    Universal:
             kà           súlē       máŋgò  wàlèɟì                 kúr
             kà           súl-  -ē   móŋgò  wālō    -ɟì           kúr
             Sbj:3.m   sit    prf  Mongo   year    poss:3.m ten
             ‘He has lived in Mongo for ten years (and lives there now).’

      c.    Recent past:
             kà          kólē       sòndé    kāj
             kà          kól-  -ē   sòndé  kājē
             Sbj:3.m  go    prf  now     here
             ‘He has just left this moment.’

      d.    Present state:
             rámà   ātːē             màlpì
             rámà   ǎt:-       -ē   màlpì
             Rama  remain  prf  Melfi
             ‘Rama has stayed in Melfi (and is there now).’
             French: Il est resté à Melfi.

    Lovestrand states that “what is labeled the ‘existential’ or ‘experiential’ perfect is not expressed with the Perfect, but instead with the Perfective marker.” An example is presented in (26).

    (26)    kì kólá ātː:á ānː:áŋ ɲɟàménà
              kiˋ  kól- -à ātː:á ānː:áŋ ɲɟamena
              Sbj:2.s go pfv time how.many N’Djamena
              'How many times have you been to N’Djamena?’

    The perfect in Baraïn, in all four of its uses, entails that the situation is still true or the result state still holds at the time of speaking. Semelfactives, which do not have a result state, cannot be expressed in the perfect:

    (27)    a. kà         ás:ːá          tā    ātː:á  pańiŋ́
                  kà         ás:-    -à   tā    ātː:á  pańiŋ́ 
                  Sbj:3.m cough pfv prtcl time  one
                  ‘He coughed once.’

      b. #kà       asː:e         ātː:á  pańiŋ́
          kà         ás:-    -ē   ātː:á  pańiŋ́
          Sbj:3.m cough prf  time  one

    The requirement that the result state still hold true at the time of speaking is illustrated in (28a). If the same event is described in the perfective, as in (28b), it implies that the result state is no longer true.

    (28)    a. kà          kólá         wò   kà      láawē
                  kà          kól-   -à   wò   kà       láaw-   -ē
                  Sbj:3.m  go     pfv and  S:3.m  return  prf
                  ‘He left but he has returned (and is still here).’

      b. kà         kólá       wò   kà       láawá         tā
          kà         kól-  -à   wò   kà       láaw-   -à   tā
          Sbj:3.m go    pfv and  S:3.m  return  pfv prtcl
          ‘He left and he returned (but he is not here now).’

    Events which result in a permanent change of state, like those in (29a) and (30a), must normally be expressed in the perfect. If these events are described in the perfective, as in (29b) and (30b), it implies that some extraordinary event has taken place to undo the result state of the described event.

    (29)    a. át:ù                  tōklē
                  átː:á    -ɟù          tǒkl-      -ē
                  arm   poss:1sg remove  prf
                  ‘My arm was removed.’

      b. át:ù                tòklá          tā
          át:á  -ɟù          tǒkl-     -à   tā
          arm  poss:1sg remove pfv prtcl 
          ‘My arm was removed once (but somebody reattached it).’

    (30)    a. kà          mótē
                  kà          mót-  -ē
                  Sbj:3.m  die    prf
                  ‘He died.

      b. ?kà         mótá
           kà          mót-  -à
           Sbj:3.m  die     pfv
           ‘He was dead (but is miraculously no longer dead).’

    The inference illustrated in (29–30), by which the perfective signals that the result state is no longer true, seems to be an implicature triggered by the speaker’s choice not to use the perfect, where that would be possible. This inference does not arise in all contexts. For example, verbs describing main-line events in a narrative sequence can occur in the perfective without any implication that the result state is no longer true. In contrast, the requirement that the result state of an event in the perfect hold true at the time of speaking is an entailment which cannot be cancelled, as demonstrated in (31b).

    (31)    a. kà         mótá         tā     wò   kà          ɲīrē
                  kà         mót-  -à    tā     wò   kà          ɲīr         -ē
                  Sbj:3.m die     pfv  prtcl  and  Sbj:3.m resurrect prf
                  ‘He died, but he has been resurrected.’           

      b. #kà        mótē        wò  kà         ɲīrē
          kà          mót-  -ē    wò  kà         ɲīr         -ē
          Sbj:3.m  die     prf  and Sbj:3.m resurrect prf 
          (intended: ‘He has died, but he has been resurrected.’)

    22.5: Case study- Perfect aspect in Baraïn (Chadic) is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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