Across Bantu, several polysemic markers expressing progressive
aspect and so-called predication focus have been reported (Güldemann 2003;
Hyman and Watters 1984). In this article, we examine two such markers in
Kikongo (Bantu, H16), i.e. the fronted-infinitive and the locative-infinitive constructions.
We provide an in-depth synchronic description of the pragmatic and
syntactic behaviour of both verbal constructions and suggest a historical evolution
for each of them. We evoke the term ‘event-centrality’ to cover the different
uses of both constructions and suggest that the fronted-infinitive construction’s
progressive meaning evolved from its use as predication focus marker, and vice
versa, that the locative-infinitive construction’s predication focus meaning
evolved from its use as a progressive marker.