So after about three years or so, Arrakum has been reborn. I've been hammering out grammar in a notebook. There's still a LOT of work to do, including deciding on the actual forms for...more or less all morphology (posts will be gloss-only for the time being), but I thought I should write some of it down here so I can consider it finalized and be less compelled to fiddle with it forever. I've spent all day scribbling madly about TAM, and I think I've got the beginnings of a functional system. I'll just completely leave out undecided morphology here, like deixis, until further notice. If you find yourself wondering "where's that morphology?" that's where it is (in limbo).
There are three grammatical aspects in Arrakum. I will refer to these as perfective (PF), precompletive (PC), and imperfective (IPFV). This is very roughly similar to how Wikipedia describes the aspectual system in Torau (with precompletive corresponding roughly to the Torau "active imperfective" and imperfective corresponding to "stative imperfective", but I haven't looked into it. These are best demonstrated on verbs, which I will refer to as resultative verbs, which have an internal aspectual structure of being a process followed by an event followed by an activity or changed state. Some examples of such verbs are sleep, fall, and sit.
"The goat fell asleep"
"The goat was sleeping"
"The goat was falling asleep"
In more classic achievement verbs, such as build a house or eat (something)the imperfective aspect is ungrammatical:
man house build-PFV
"The man built the house"
man house build-PC
"The man was building the house"
*man house build-IPFV
In activity verbs, the precompletive aspect is ungrammatical:
"The man walked"
"The man was walking"
Finally, in achievement verbs, both imperfective and precompletive aspects are ungrammatical:
"The man arrived"
Semelfactive verbs are not distinguished from achievements, and can take iterative derivational morphology to become activity verbs. Stative verbs are adjectives, which is an area I haven't explored at all yet. Another related thing, though: I'd like imperfectives to be very easy to create adjective constructions from and likely require no additional morphology, with precompletives requiring some additional morphology, and perfectives being non-adjectivalizable and requiring relative clause constructions to modify nouns. Stay tuned, I guess...
Aspectual morphology is going to be relatively fusional with person/distance deixis. I have only barely begun to work that out, so that is very much TBD.
Tense and finiteness are inseparable in Arrakum. There is a three-way distinction here between past (PST), non-past (NPST), and non-finite (NF). As you've already probably predicted, tense marking only appears on matrix clauses, with all subordinate clauses taking non-finite marking. I am pondering breaking down non-finite marking further, but currently I think I'm probably going to keep that as is. Tense is the rightmost morphology that appears on a verb.
man goat see-PFV-PST
"The man saw the goat"
Additionally, here we see some overlap with aspect:
"The woman will fall asleep" (or just "The woman will sleep")
"The woman is falling asleep"
"The woman is sleeping"
TENSE & ASPECT IN COMPLEX SENTENCES:
Sequences of events can be expressed using non-finite perfective subordinate clauses (I feel like I should note that this was directly inspired by how Ojibwe handles "after" constructions):
monster goat see-PFV-NF kill-PFV-NF now eat-PC-PST
"The monster saw, killed, and is eating the goat."
Similarly, simultaneous events can be expressed with imperfective or precompletive non-finite subordinate clauses:
Aravennu sing-IPFV-NF walk-PFV-PST
"Aravennu sang as she walked"
Lastly, subordinate non-finite precompletive verbs can in some cases be used to express concepts of incompleteness, such as when expressing that something almost happened, or that someone tried to do something. This can occur even in cases where the precompletive morphology would be ungrammatical in a matrix clause. I really need to figure out negation more before I can really get into this, since I want negation to play a role here:
Errendu monster kill-PC-NF die-PFV-PST
"Errendu tried to kill the monster and died."
Modal auxverbs will abound. I haven't worked this out yet because I haven't been in the mood (hurr hurr).