[Lingtyp] Co-expression of future and past

David Osgarby david.john.osgarby at gmail.com
Wed Dec 12 20:46:23 UTC 2018

Hi Lauren,

Wik-Mungkan (Middle Paman, Pama-Nyungan) has syncretism between past and
future tenses in the reciprocal sub-paradigm of the verbal inflectional
paradigm (Kilham 1977, p. 46). While in the "base" (non-reciprocal)
sub-paradigm, the verbal inflections distinguish present, past and future
tenses (as well as subjunctive mood)–e.g. 1DU.INCL.SUBJ -anàl, -al, -àl
respectively—in the "reciprocal" sub-paradigm only present and past/future
are distinguished—e.g. 1DU.INCL.SUBJ -wunal, -wul respectively. This
syncretism is made for all combinations of subject person/number except
3.PL.SUBJ. It looks, to me, that the syncretism has arisen due to
phonological merger, given that in the "base" forms, the distinction
between past and future for most inflections comes down to stress (or a
schwa vs. low vowel distinction), as you can see in the -al vs. -àl example

Hope that's of use!

Kilham, Christine. 1977. Thematic Organization of Wik-Munkan Discourse.
Pacific Linguistics, B-52. Canberra: Australian National University.

On Wed, Dec 12, 2018 at 12:21 AM Lauren Reed <lauren.reed at anu.edu.au> wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> My colleague Alan Rumsey and I are working on a small sign language in
> Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea. The language has a marker which
> appears to express either remote future or remote past. This co-expression
> is attributed by users to the fact that both far future and far past events
> occur many sleep-wake cycles from now.
> I am interested in hearing of any other examples you may be aware of where
> languages overtly mark both future and past with the same marker (whether
> this be remote or not).
> Best regards
> Lauren
> *---*
> *Lauren Reed*
> *Australian National University *
> *laurenwreed.com <http://laurenwreed.com>*
> *+61 438 583 808*

David Osgarby [ˈɔskəˌbiː]
Research Associate, School of Languages and Cultures
The University of Queensland, St Lucia QLD 4072
ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL)
m: +61 432 962 476
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