Main event line structure and aspect in Sandawe narratives*

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Sandawe (isolate, Tanzania) does not have a specific verb form which fulfils the function of advancing the main event line in a narrative, nor does it have a set of dedicated aspect morphemes. Despite this, the language makes use of aspect distinctions in structuring the main event line, both by signalling whether information should be interpreted as part of the main event line and by providing a temporal organisation of this information. With respect to this latter function, the distinction between perfective and imperfective aspect, which is achieved by various grammatical and lexical means, is utilised to indicate whether events are to be understood as chronologically sequential, simultaneous or overlapping.


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