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Limits of standard diagnostic tests for aspectual classes in Nyamwezi

Ponsiano Kanijo


The most acceptable aspectual classes of verbs are those of Vendler (1967). Vendler classifies English verbs into four classes, which are diagnosed by applying various ‘standard’ tests. The tests check the interactions of the classes with temporal modifiers and with tense and aspect markers. However, applying these tests in Nyamwezi indicates two types of complications. First, some of these tests are not applicable or unavailable in Nyamwezi, as they denote results that do not systematically classify verbs into aspectual classes. Second, some of the tests are applicable in Nyamwezi but behave differently from the Vendlerian analysis. These complications indicate that the four Vendlerian aspectual classes and their diagnostic tests are not universal. Thus, scholars working in this field should apply these tests with caution. They also need to find other diagnostic tests that can be created using the language system under study.

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eISSN: 0023-1886