In this study, I investigated the distribution of verb forms and the discourse function of those verb forms in U̱t-Ma’in narratives. The primary focus was the use of what I call the “Bare Verb” form for both present/habitual functions and for past time interpretation within the main event line of a narrative discourse. The function of the Bare Verb form is one of interpretive dependence on the discourse context. In this respect the Bare Verb form is similar to some of functions of the null verb form described for Wolof (Atlantic). Due to its textual interpretive dependence, the U̱t-Ma’in Bare Verb form never occurs as the first verb of a narrative event sequence, though the clauses it occurs in have all other components of finite main clause syntax (and the Bare Verb can clearly occur independently as the single verb form in a stand-alone utterance). The Bare Verb form is not a case of a grammatical form specifically devoted to narrative sequence; but the U̱t-Ma’in language does use sequenced Bare Verb forms as a strategy to further the narrative without need to reset the temporal, aspectual, or mood scenario for the listener (as well as other functions).
Data for this project was collected in collaboration with local speakers. Nine texts were transcribed, glossed, translated and annotated.