The paper addresses the problem of encoding temporal relations between two events in Wan, a Southeastern Mande language spoken in Côte d'Ivoire. It discusses two major strategies that are used in the discourse of Wan to express relations like anteriority, posteriority, simultaneity, etc. The lexical strategy encodes information about a specific temporal relation in a specialized lexical item, such as a postposition, an adverb or a particle with a temporal meaning (Wan lacks temporal subordinators of the English /while/ type). The other strategy relies on temporal information encoded in aspectual forms. Although normally and in isolated clauses aspectual forms of Wan, such as the perfect or the progressive, describe a state that holds at the moment of speaking, their temporal interpretation can be shifted into the past or future in a clause sequence with a specialized marker /ké/, which signals that the temporal interpretation of a verb form is relativized to the preceding reference time. It is argued that the marker /ké/ serves as a marker of deictic shift that dissociates the interpretation of a verb form from the time of speaking and relates it to a previous reference time. It is further demonstrated that in Wan, specialized markers encode dissociation of the temporal interpretation of a verb form from the time of speaking as a grammatical category.
Selected Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference on African Linguistics
edited by Doris L. Payne and Jaime Peña
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