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Title: The Categorial Status and Functions of Auxiliaries in Shona
Authors: Mberi, Nhira Edgar
Keywords: African Languages
Niger-Congo Languages
Atlantic-Congo Languages
Issue Date: 2002
Publisher: University of Zimbambwe
Abstract: Th e study examines auxiliaries in Shona. One of the most problematic issues when dealing with auxiliaries not only in Shona but also in many languages of the world is the question of their categorical status. Th is study argues that the taxonomic problems associated with auxiliaries in Shona are largely a result of the use of traditional approaches to linguistic categorization. Even the use of structurist and generative approaches in the last thirty years or so has not done much towards resolving the problems associated with the categorical status of auxiliaries in Shona. Th is study moves away from this classical treatment of grammatical categories, which is mainly based on necessary and suffi cient conditions. It uses the gradience approach which argues that there is no distinct boundary between auxiliaries and lexical verbs. Th e study uses the grammaticalization theory to account for the nature and behavior of auxiliaries. It argues that auxiliaries in Shona, like in many other languages, have historically developed from main lexical verbs. Having established that auxiliaries historically develop from main lexical verbs an attempt is made to try and discover the pathways of changes that may have taken place when verbs grammaticalize in Shona. In this eff ort to characterize the set of verbs that change from the major lexical category to the minor category, the study takes the cognitive approach. Th is approach takes the view that the meaning of the verb that is being grammaticalized uniquely determines the path of grammaticalization and consequently the resulting grammatical forms. According to this view, the grammaticalization of verbs into auxiliaries is a problem-solving process which involves metaphorical extention and metonymic extension. Th e cognitive explanation of the motivation of grammaticalization revolves around what cognitivists refer to as the basic human strategy of dealing with our environment, that is, conceiving of and expressing experiences that are less accessible or more diffi cult to understand or describe in terms of more accessible concrete experiences. The metaphorical and metonymic extention involves movement from one conceptual domain to another in a unidirectional process, moving from concete domains to abstract domains.
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