Discourse Workshop Finished

We just finished a workshop oriented towards the study of discourse properties, originally in several Central Soudanic languages of DRC, but also included was one Nilotic language.  I worked with Lese (Ethnologue: les), a language where I studied tone for some six months of this last year.

One of the highlights for the team was finally (I hope) getting the aspect distinctions of their language. That is, their basic verbal contrast is between something like perfective and non-perfective aspects, though all their formal education is in French, so they have been thinking in terms of past, present, and future tenses.  One morpheme they had glossed as ‘future,’ but from a survey of texts, only one of seven examples referred to certain, future action.  The rest were states or actions that would result from a choice that  was not, in fact, taken (either past, present, or future), or else a desired future action, which was never in fact, accomplished. So, not to weird to see aspectual and modal marking mapped onto tense functions, but it was good to see some of interpretationsthe team catching on to the grammatical distinctions in their language, and how it differs from French.

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