periphrastic future

Pawley, A. apawley at COOMBS.ANU.EDU.AU
Wed Apr 24 07:27:02 UTC 1996

Colin Harrison asks:
<Does anyone out there know of any languages that form a periphrastic future
tense using the verb "do" (or "make") as an auxiliary (i.e. something like
"He is DOING to write" meaning "He is going to write").

A Papuan language, Kalam, spoken in Madang Province, PNG, forms
periphrastic future tenses using the verb g- 'do, make, occur', though in a
more complex way than 'He is DOING to write'.  The Kalam say 'In order to
write he does' or 'Prospective writing he does'.  The basic structure of
future-tense predicates is VERB + -NG 'medial verb suffix marking future
action by same subject as final verb' + G- 'do' + -P- 'present-iterative
suffix' + subject person-number suffix. For example g-ng g-p-in 'I will do
(it)', am-ng g-p-in 'I will go'.

Immediate future is expressed by substituting -SP- 'present progressive'
for -P-, e.g. g-ng g-sp-in 'I am about to do it', am-ng g-sp-in 'I am about
to go'.

However, it is the medial verb suffix -NG that marks future, not the verb
G- 'do'.  G- is also used to form other periphrastic tenses, such as past
habitual,  in combination with a different medial verb suffix.

Andy Pawley

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