Temporal reference in a genuinely tenseless language: The case of Hausa
In this paper, we provide an analysis of temporality in Hausa (Chadic, Afro-Asiatic). By testing the hypothesis of covert tense (Matthewson 2006) against empirical data, we show that Hausa is genuinely tenseless in the sense that the grammar does not restrict the relation between reference time and utterance time. Rather, temporal reference is pragmatically inferred from aspectual and contextual information. We also argue that future time reference in Hausa is realized as a combination of a modal operator and a prospective aspect, thus involving the modal meaning components of intention and prediction as well as event time shifting.