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Title: The Nambya Verb With Special Emphasis On The Causative
Authors: Chabata, Emmanuel
Keywords: African Languages
Niger-Congo Languages
Atlantic-Congo Languages
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: University of Oslo
Abstract: This study is an analysis of the Nambya morphological causative. It specifically looks at the syntactic and semantic functions of the causative morpheme or extension in the Nambya verbal system, that is, the syntactic and semantic effect(s) of adding a causative morpheme onto a non-causative verb. We use the Lexical Mapping Theory to account for the syntactic properties of the causative construction and the theory of Cognitive Grammar to account for the semantic changes caused by the addition of the causative morpheme to the verb base. The study was motivated by three kinds of observation: (a) not much has been done on describing the Nambya verb in general, and the Nambya causative in particular, (b) although verbal extensions, including the causative, have been extensively studied in other Bantu languages closely related to Nambya, the tendency has been to focus only on the syntactic functions of these morphemes – the semantic effects of adding these derivational extensions onto verb bases has not received meaningful study in Bantu languages, and (c) extended verbs, including causatively extended verbs, have received inconsistent treatment in Moreno’s (1988) Nambya-English, English-Nambya dictionary and in other lexicographic projects in closely related languages such as Shona and Ndebele. In these dictionary projects, the principles used in handling extended verbs were inconsistently applied. As a result, it is often difficult to decide whether or not some extended verbs should be included or excluded as dictionary headwords. Taking the causative as the main focus of study, this study exposes the general characteristics of verbal extensions as well as the relationship between extended verbs and their respective verb bases. The study aims to provide information that could be helpful to lexicographers when making decisions on whether or not to include or exclude extended verbs in Nambya lexicographic projects that are expected to start soon. This study shows that the causative extension is a derivational suffix owing to the syntactic and semantic changes that it causes to verbs that it attaches to. In terms of syntax, the study shows that the addition of the causative extension onto non-causative verbs has the effect of changing the argument structure of the verb base by introducing a new argument, which assumes the new grammatical role of the causer or subject of the sentence. It also shows that change in argument structure in turn affects the expression of arguments in surface syntax. In terms of semantics, the study shows that the addition of the causative extension onto verb bases causes large meaning changes to these verbs. In addition to predictable and compositional meanings, causatively extended verbs tend to have unpredictable and non-compositional meanings, hence the reason why they should be treated as new or different verbs.
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