Verbal Serialisation in Bezen (Southern Jukunoid)

ISBN 978-3-89645-764-6

Verbal Serialisation in Bezen (Southern Jukunoid)

With a Prelude on Verbal Morphosyntax

Author: Viktoria Kempf. Series edited by: Wilhelm J.G. Möhlig, Bernd Heine.

Series: Grammatical Analyses of African Languages Volume 54

4th quarter 2017
12 pp. Roman, 139 pp.
4 graphs, 2 colour tables, 12 b/w tables
Text language(s): English
Format: 160 x 240 mm
290 g
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The present study describes and analyses serial verb constructions (SVCs) in Bezen, a previously little re­searched Southern-jukunoid language spoken by about 450 people in one village in North-Western Cameroon (2001: SIL). Serial verb con­structions are defined as several verbs within a clause that are either coordinated, nor subordinated. Bezen thus forms part of a larger linguistic area featuring SVCs reaching from the Ivory Coast to Cameroon.

However, this work does not only focus on SVCs, it also offers a description of the verbal system. The first chapter discusses previous works on serialization in related West-African languages. In this chapter the data-collection process and the analysis are also presented. The second chapter describes the verbal system: the aspect and mode categories, adverbs, deictic marking and negation patterns. Since SVCs are defined in de­limitation to other multiverb-constructions, such as subordinated and coordinated clauses, these are ad­dressed in the third chapter. The fourth chapter finally discusses SVCs.

The Bezen data confirms Aikhenvald’s (2006) typology which allows for a classification of SVCs into the two groups of symmetrical and asymmetrical SVCs. Whereas the verbs in symmetrical SVCs are not semantically restricted, at least one verb in asymmetrical SVCs has restricted semantics.

Asymmetrical SVCs can be further subclassified: some verbs modify others concerning quality, others introduce an aspectual notion. One group of semantically subordinate verbs introduce arguments, others express the direction of a movement. Switch-function SVCs are a special form of SVCs in which the object of the first verb serves as the subject for the second verb. In Bezen, these SVCs cannot be classified as one of the categories symmetrical or asymmetrical. Some authors (Haspelmath 2015) argue that this type of constructions should not be included in descriptions of serializing languages at all. However, since the verbs share the object of V1, they are included here.

SVCs are known as sources for grammaticalization and lexicalization processes. Grammaticalization describes the development of lexemes to grammatical morphemes. In Bezen, one verb in series may grammaticalize to an aspect-marking morpheme. This process is addressed in the framework of the verb phrase in chapter two. In chapter five, lexicalization phenomena are described. They include the development of compound verbs and adverbs from verbs in series.


Below you will find further analyses of Jukunoid languages. In a previous volume of the same series the author analyses serial verb constructions as well:

Accompanying material:


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