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Metarepresentation, tense, aspect and narratives: the case of Behdini-Kurdish and Estonian

By Christoph Unger


This paper looks at three sets of data, two from Behdini-Kurdish and one from Estonian, where a metarepresentational use analysis enhances the linguistic analysis of certain linguistic forms. The aspective marker da in Behdini is used in two ways, as a near counterfactual past and a distant habitual past: (1) ew da genim-ê çîn-in They IM wheat-OBL.M.SG grow-3PL 1. 'They set out to sow wheat (but where prevented from doing it)' 2. 'They used to grow wheat (in old times; of the people of a village)' My claim is that da encodes a procedure to embed the proposition expressed under a higher order respresentation such as 'the speaker intends the addressee to imagine a situation where P holds,' and I'll argue that the attested uses can be pragmatically explained on the basis of this semantics. Thus it appears that metarepresentations can explain some phenomena normally attributed to the category of aspect. The future marker dê in Behdini is used syntactically in a very similar way: (2) ew dê xwarin-ê çêk-in they FUT meal-OBL.F.SG prepare-3PL 'they will prepare the meal' I present arguments both from within Behdini as well as cross-linguistically that the future tense in Behdini should be analysed as procedurally encoding metarepresentational use: the proposition expressed is to be embedded under a higher-order representation of the form 'the speaker intends the addressee to imagine a situation where P holds and P has not yet occured'. This analysis raises a number of questions for the analysis of future tense markers cross-linguistically. Finally, I argue that the so-called 'quotative mood' in Estonian is better analysed as attributive interpretive use marker. One of the many advantages of this analysis is the fact that it sheds light on the use of the quotative in narratives, especially folk tales: narrative exploits metarepresentations in various ways, hence it is not surprising to find interpretive use markers used as narrative forms. This raises the question whether other so-called 'narrative verb forms' in other langauges should be re-analysed as interpretive use markers

Topics: Semantics, Pragmatics
Year: 2003
OAI identifier:

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