The meaning of the NAATA + infinitive construction in basse mandinka

Alexander Andrason 1
  • 1 University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, 7602 Matieland, South Africa; Universityof Iceland, v/ Suðurgötu, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland


Alexander Andrason. The Meaning of the NAATA + Infinitive Construction in Basse Mandinka. Lingua P osnaniensis, vol. L IV (1)/2012. T he P oznań Society for the A dvancement of the A rts and Sciences. PL ISSN 0079-4740, ISBN 978-83-7654-103-7, pp. 7-19.

Purpose: T he present paper aims at providing a detailed description of values and uses offered by the NAATA form - an analytic Mandinka construction formed by means of the auxiliary naa ‘come’, employed itself in the so-called ‘TA tense’, and the infinitive of the main “meaning” verb. In that manner, we intend to rectify an important lacuna in grammatical studies of the Mandinka language which have almost entirely ignored the issue of the NAATA locution.

Method: A detailed map of the semantic content of the NAATA form will be designed, specifying its temporal, taxis, aspectual and modal implications, as well as certain textual properties. A ll the values will be illustrated by instructive examples provided by ten native Mandinka speakers (i.e. residents of Basse and neighboring villages: Manne K unda, Bassending, Mansajang and K aba K ama) and collected by the author in 2010 and 2011.

Results: T he evidence shows that the meaning of the NAATA construction corresponds to a present perfect (resultative, iterative, inclusive, experiential and indefinite), to a past tense (immediate, recent, general and remote) and to a perfective aspect (punctual, terminative and ingressive; less commonly the locution approximates a simple past). A dditionally, the formation expresses certain modal concepts, such as non-intentionality, accidentality or spontaneity of a corresponding perfect or past event. A s far as textual properties are concerned, the NAATA form is found both in discourse and narration, being able in the latter case to introduce events of the narrative foreground.

Conclusion: T he author demonstrates that the values displayed by the construction (with an exception of the modal senses) can be connected and a definition, which exceeds a simple inventory of uses, may be provided if one views the locution from a dynamic evolutionary perspective, i.e. as a manifestation of one of the developmental scenarios governing the grammatical evolution of original resultative constructions, namely as a realization of the anterior path. Furthermore, the modal senses of the NAATA form may be related to the anterior trajectory (and to its meanings-stages) if we make use of the evidential path, an evolutionary possibility which links the grammatical life of resultatives with determined modal domains. T his latter proposition, however, needs a more profound analysis and will constitute one of the research activities, conducted by the author in the future.

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