In Inuktitut, a polysynthetic language spoken by the Inuit of arctic Quebec, a single temporally unmarked verb form is interpreted as either perfective or imperfective, depending on the telicity of the verb stem. The theoretical framework of Bohnemeyer and Swift (in press) explains this alignment pattern with the notion of event realization, that is, the entailment of occurrence of an event (at a certain time). This paper traces the role of event realization and aspectual interpretation in the development of time reference in children acquiring Inuktitut. These children exhibit three developmental phenomena that appear puzzling or contradictory in comparison with findings reported crosslinguistically. First, early on children acquiring Inuktitut demonstrate facility with the variation in time reference of the temporally unmarked verb forms, even in the absence of overt linguistic cues marking temporal differences. Second, they develop competence with future marking before past marking. Third, they first use marked past forms with atelic verbs. The analysis presented provides a uniform explanation for these three developmental puzzles.
"Early time reference in Inuktitut child language: The role of event realization and aspectual interpretation,"
Semantics of Under-Represented Languages in the Americas: Vol. 2
, Article 13.
Available at: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/sula/vol2/iss1/13