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A Prolegomena to the Oron Tense System

Paulinus Noah, Margaret M. Okon
Published 30 April 2020

Abstract

There is no concurrence on the number of tense divisions in most tense analyses on Oron. Research in this area has recorded several dissimilar tense divisions ranging from three to nine. This paper re-assesses tense in general and its operation in Oron, a Lower Cross language (LCL) in Nigeria, in particular, using a descriptive framework. This is compared with what is already known of Ibibio, a sister language and English, Nigeria’s official language. The Oron-Ibibio data were elicited from native-speakers, using a pool of structured sentences and some world list, while the library served as a secondary source for the three languages. The ultimate phonetic forms of the past and future tense allomorphs in Oron are syntactically and discursively conditioned, in a way that hones the phonologysyntax interface. Available data and our analysis indicate that the present tense is not grammaticalized in Oron. The past and future are demonstrably marked, instead. Part of the significance of this paper, with regards to its original contribution rest in refuting the orthodox thesis that tense in Oron yields a ‘natural’ triadic (of past, present and future) or multifarious division (cf. Simmons 1956; Essien 1990, 1991, 2006; Okon 2006; Essien 1999; Udosen 2004; Akaduh 1984). While our binary postulation is impelling, it is by a large extent prefatory. Hence, we encourage more analysis in this direction and in Oron morpho-syntax in general. This could be more productive if considered from the viewpoint of linguistic time.

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