Actionality and aspect in Southern Ndebele and Xhosa, two Nguni languages of South Africa

When it rains, it pours. An article I co-authored with Bastian Persohn, Actionality and aspect in Southern Ndebele and Xhosa, two Nguni languages of South Africa, has been published (open access) by Studies in African Languages.   The abstract:

This paper presents some key findings of studies of actionality and the verbal grammar–lexicon interface in two Nguni Bantu languages of South Africa, Xhosa and Southern Ndebele. We describe interactions between grammatical tense marking (and other sentential bounding elements) and lexical verb types, arguing for the salience of inchoative verbs, which lexically encode a resultant state, and, in particular, a sub-class of inchoative verbs, biphasal verbs, which encode both a resultant state and the “coming-to-be” phase leading up to that state. We further discuss other important features of actional classes in Xhosa and Southern Ndebele, including topics such as the role of participant structure and the relative importance of cross-linguistically prominent distinctions such as that between Vendlerian activities and accomplishments. Although differences between Xhosa and Southern Ndebele are evident both in the behaviour of individual tense-aspect forms and in the interpretive possibilities of specific verbs, the general patterns are quite similar. This similarity suggests that the patterns are likely to extend to other Nguni languages, as well, and that cross-linguistic comparison of particular lexical items across these languages are both feasible and likely to bear fruit.

On the role of the lexicon in actionality – Special issue of STUF

I am so pleased to announce the publication of a special issue of STUF – Language Typology and Universals (Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung), focused  on the role of the lexicon in actionality, and guest edited by me, Johanna Nichols, and Bastian Persohn. It contains a great range of articles featuring new work from some of the most influential and innovative scholars currently studying the lexical dimensions of aspect. The papers are listed below.

This volume grew out of a workshop held at ALT 13 in Pavia (which I wrote about here) and also includes articles from several scholars who were not able to be with us at the conference. We are grateful to all of the authors and reviewers who generously participated in the volume and in the precipitating workshop.

Thera Marie Crane, Johanna Nichols and Bastian Persohn
Introduction: the role of the lexicon in actionality

Walter Breu
Actionality and the degree of temporal dynamics 

Jurica Polančec
Two-phase verbs: a crosslinguistic look at an actional class

Ponsiano Sawaka Kanijo
The robustness of Botne and Kershner aspectual classes in Nyamwezi

Leora Bar-el and Malin Petzell
(Im)perfectivity and actionality in East Ruvu Bantu

Sergei Tatevosov
Actionality across (sub)paradigms

František Kratochvíl, David Moeljadi, Benidiktus Delpada, Václav Kratochvíl and Jiří Vomlel
Aspectual pairing and aspectual classes in Abui