Volume 10, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2210-2116
  • E-ISSN: 2210-2124
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This paper presents an overview of the tens-aspect system in the Sogeram languages of Papua New Guinea. Taking the Proto-Sogeram reconstruction in Daniels (20152020) as a starting point, I outline the innovations that have taken place in daughter languages and discuss the patterns of change that emerge. The study confirms a variety of known cross-linguistic tendencies, such as the common occurrence of the analytic-to-synthetic and aspect-to-tense pathways of change. More notable trends include the diachronic stability of the present and most remote past tenses; the instability of the middle pasts and future; the stability of the relative semantic ordering of tenses; the absence of a pathway leading from relative-tense to absolute-tense marking; and the ability of innovative tenses to be inserted anywhere into the five-way tense system of Proto-Sogeram. The study also illustrates how featural systems can interact over time, at first by introducing a new feature value in one system which can combine with values from another (as with the Manat habitual), and then, if the featural distinction is lost, creating a pattern of distributed exponence (as in Mum).


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