The roles of Dissociative and (Non-)Completive morphology in structuring Totela (Bantu) narratives

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In Totela, infinitive-based ‘narrative’ morphology alternates with forms inflected for tense and aspect. While narrative morphology can depict sequential events, inflected forms are used with both non-sequential and sequential event predicates. When inflected forms appear, especially in contexts where narrative morphology might also be appropriate, they play important roles in signaling narrative structure. The three most common categories of inflected verbs in narratives indicate ‘completion’, ‘non-completion’, and ‘dissociation’. Dissociative marking appears at the beginning and ending of a narrative and frames it by shifting the cognitive domain to a world, separate from the world of telling, where listener belief is suspended to include narrative events. Inside that world, Completives and Non-completives provide structure to the narrative and direct listener responses.


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