The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LFRG 11/9 — Chris Baron

Speaker: Chris Baron
Title: A Prospective Puzzle and a Possible Solution
Date and time: November 9 (Wednesday), 1-2pm
Location: 32-D831

It is generally assumed that Mayan languages are tenseless, and only grammaticalize aspect (Henderson 2015). This assumption holds for Kaqchikel, a K’ichean-branch Mayan language of Guatemala (García Matzar & Rodriguez Guaján 1997). However, there is a puzzling fact about the ‘prospective aspect’ morpheme xk-, which at first blush would seem to locate the run time of the event after the reference time: it cannot be embedded under the temporal adverbial ‘yesterday.’

(1) Chwa’q xk-i-muxan.
tomorrow PROSP-B1S-swim
‘Tomorrow, I will swim.’

(2) *Iwïr xk-i-muxan.
yesterday PROSP-B1S-swim
Intended: ‘Yesterday, I was going to swim.’

The ungrammaticality of (2) is unexpected if the prospective only locates the event time after the reference time established by iwïr ‘yesterday.’ In this talk on work in progress, I present data that suggest that this aspect not only contributes aspectual semantics, but also modal semantics, and that this is the reason for the puzzling fact.