Die Verbalsysteme des Amharischen und Tigrinischen

ISBN 978-3-89645-687-8

Die Verbalsysteme des Amharischen und Tigrinischen

Eine vergleichende Analyse

Author: Marlene Guss-Kosicka. Series edited by: Rainer Voigt, Hatem Elliesie.

Series: Studien zum Horn von Afrika Volume 7

18 pp. Roman, 336 pp.
1 colour graph, 29 tables, index
Text language(s): German
Format: 170 x 240 mm
870 g
€ 69.80

The present thesis centres around a comparison between the verbal systems of Amharic and Tigrinya, two Ethio-Semitic languages. Following upon a short introduction which deals with the methodology employed and the current state of research, these verbal systems are investigated from two different angles.

The first part studies the morphology and the modes of employment of the perfect, gerund, imperfect and jussive-imperative, their combination with the copula, with auxiliary verbs (HLW, KWN, NBR) and with conjunctions, as well as various periphrastic constructions. Notwithstanding a multitude of structurally corresponding formations in both languages, significant differences exist, most importantly with regard to the syntactic status of the simple verbal forms: Thus Tigrinya allows the employment of the simple imperfect or simple gerund as main verbal forms in indicative sentences, in addition to the use of the perfect tense; in contrast, Amharic permits only the perfect tense to be used in indicative sentences, and restricts the employment of the simple imperfect and simple gerund as main verbal forms to certain limited contexts. Common features in Tigrinya and Amharic can be described as follows: the gerund or allä-gerund may not be negated; the negative perfect assumes the function of the negative gerund or allä-gerund; and the jussive-imperative may only be used independently to express modal connotations. A short chapter on verbal formations which occur exclusively in Amharic, viz. constructions involving a participle or an infinitive, conclude part one.

The second part is dedicated to the relative verb, its properties and morphology, its syntactic employment, as well as its various constructions. In both languages the relative form is a nominalized form; relative particle and verbal forms constitute an inseparable unit which may not be disrupted by any additional syntactic entities (Amh. yä-säbbärä, Tgn. zǝ-säbärä). Among the most prominent features involving relative form are personal qualifying constructions and cleft sentences. The personal qualifying construction is composed of the conjugated copula and the relative verb placed directly before the copula and the copula is always in agreement with the relative verb. Most of the personal qualifying constructions have finite verbal forms corresponding to each of them. These qualifying constructions always qualify the subject, unlike the different finite verbal forms which rather express an action or an ongoing process; a predication can therefore be realized by both languages in two ways. Another focus of investigation is the compound copula (e.g.ʾǝyyu zǝ-näbärä), a particularity of Tigrinya, which is also used to form compound tenses. Cleft sentences, on the other hand, result from a syntactic shift of a plain sentence to a copula sentence, in which the predicate of the underlying plain sentence is relativized and becomes the subject of the cleft sentence, with the purpose of emphasizing as a predicative complement a component that is placed directly before the copula. They are divided into concrete and abstract cleft sentences. In a concrete cleft sentence the predicative complement can only be represented by the subject of the underlying plain sentence, or by an object that is placed unmarked before the copula; in an abstract cleft sentence all other components can figure as a predicative complement. There, the main differences in both languages regard the formation of compound tenses and the copula: in Tigrinya, as a rule, the main verb as well as the auxiliary verb are relativized, and the copula is always ʾǝyyu or its negated form ʾay-konä-n respectively; in Amharic, however, it is often only the main verb which is relativized, whilst the auxiliary verb acts as the copula.

Regarding the variety of forms in their verbal system, Tigrinya and Amharic belong to the richest Semitic languages. Yet compared with Amharic, the verbal system in Tigrinya has been developed historically into a system of greater complexity. This is due to the inclusion of the copula ʾǝyyu in the formation of various compound verbal forms; the formation of compound copula forms; and lastly the employment of the gerund as a main verbal form. On the other hand, Tigrinya completely lacks any periphrastic constructions with infinitive which are common in Amharic.


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