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Bergqvist, Jan Henrik Goran (2008) Temporal reference in Lakandon Maya: Speaker and event perspectives. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The investigation analyses the grammatical and semantic properties of a number of commonly occurring time words in Lakandon Maya, the least described of the four existing Yukatekan languages spoken in southern Mexico and in parts of Guatemala and Belize. Lakandon Maya has around 800 speakers who live in one of two settlements in the southeastern lowlands of Chiapas, Mexico. The language materials that the analysis rests on were collected by the author in the field as part of a documentation effort supported and funded by the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) at SOAS, University of London. In Lakandon Maya, deictic time words such as 7uhch ('before', 'long ago') and ka7chik ('before', 'previously') have pragmatically dependent features of meaning that relate to the indexical ground rather than the before-after relations relevant to time reference proper. The salient meaning in the two forms can best be described in terms of knowledge asymmetries between the speech participants. However, such modal-like semantics do not exclude the forms from being considered as operators of time reference since they are only used in specific temporal contexts. The results of the investigation point to a shift in meaning in the forms that cannot be anticipated from the available literature on other Yukatekan languages. There, cognates of the investigated forms have been described solely as temporal operators with simultaneous, anterior, and posterior meaning. The investigation argues for a separation between time words that uses the speech situation as the sole point of reference and time words that denote a relation between two events. This separation is defined in terms of speaker-dependent and event-dependent time reference. These concepts are analogous to absolute and relative time reference but should be considered as separate due to the pragmatic motivations that underlie the function and use of the forms.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:02

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