[Lingtyp] 'until' clauses in Africa

Denis Creissels denis.creissels at univ-lyon2.fr
Wed Jan 5 16:11:36 UTC 2022

Dear Jesus Francisco,

'Until getting tired' as a way of expressing 'for a very long time' is pervasive in West African languages, and is also found in local varieties of European languages (for example 'jusqu'à fatigué' in Ivorian French). I know of no general analysis of this construction, but the reason is probably simply that that, syntactically, it behaves like any until-clause.

Note that the West African verbs commonly glossed 'tire' commonly have a wider meaning, including 'bother', 'cause problems'.



De : Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> de la part de Jesus Francisco Olguin Martinez <olguinmartinez at ucsb.edu>
Envoyé : mercredi 5 janvier 2022 16:56:31
À : lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Objet : [Lingtyp] 'until' clauses in Africa

Dear all,

I hope this email finds you well.

I send you this message because in my sample there are a couple of  African languages (e.g. Tommo So and Bangime) that have a narrative construction in which the until-clause appears with a verb meaning ‘to get tired’ (e.g. I worked I worked until I get tired). Note that this clause does not necessarily denote literal weariness or physical fatigue. Instead, this construction is used in contexts where speakers express that they carried out an activity for a very long time (e.g. I worked I worked for a very long time). In this type of construction,  the first clause in linear order denotes a prolonged activity and is followed by a clause meaning ‘until I got tired’ emphasizing the extreme prolongation of the first situation.

I was wondering if you know any study that has explored this type of construction or if you know any other African languages that have this type of construction.

Thank you very much in advance.


Jesús Olguín Martínez
Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Linguistics
University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)
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