Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 371–415 | Cite as

Temporal interpretation in Hausa

  • Anne Mucha
Research Article


This paper provides a formal analysis of the grammatical encoding of temporal information in Hausa (Chadic, Afro-Asiatic), thereby contributing to the recent debate on temporality in languages without overt tense morphology. By testing the hypothesis of covert tense against recently obtained empirical data, the study yields the result that Hausa is tenseless and that temporal reference is pragmatically inferred from aspectual, modal and contextual information. The second part of the paper addresses the coding of future in particular. It is shown that future time reference in Hausa is realized as a combination of a modal operator and a Prospective aspect marker, involving the modal meaning components of intention and prediction as well as event time shifting. The discussion relates directly to recent approaches to other seemingly tenseless languages such as St’át’imcets (Matthewson, Linguist Philos 29:673–713, 2006) or Paraguayan Guaraní (Tonhauser, Linguist Philos 34:257–303, 2011b) and provides further evidence for the suggested analyses of the future markers in these languages.


Tenseless languages Aspect Pragmatic principles Future Modality Hausa 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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