Uniformity, variability and diversity in the syntax of serial verb constructions

Uniformity, variability and diversity in the syntax of serial verb constructions
Coordinator: Jakob Maché (Universidade de Lisboa)

As shown by Dimmendaal (2002: 382–387), serial verb constructions (SVCs) are an essential syntactic characteristic a couple of West-African sub-branches in the Volta-Congo branch. Apart from the well studied Kwa and prominent Western Benue-Congo, SVC are also attested in Ijoid (cf. Carstens 2002), Gur (cf. Lord 1993: 128–129 for Kuusal and Dagbani, Hiraiwa and Bodomo 2008 for Dàgáárè) and Senufo (cf. Lord 1993). However, the most recent insights onWest-African SVCs were gained from data from Kwa such as Shluinsky’s (2017) classification into take-SVCs and give-SVCs which account for the majority of SVCs in Kwa, or Putten (2017) findings on expression of manner and path in motion or Beermann and Hellan’s (2018) analysis. The research on SVCs in Western Benue Kwa is to a large extent based on data from Defoid, Apke-Edoid and Igboid (cf. Stahlke 1970, Lord 1993, Déchaine 1993, Ogie 2009, Schaefer and Egbokhare 2010; 2017).
This panel invites contributions that are dedicated to one of the research questions especiallybut not only from Gur, Ijoid, Senufo and lesser studied branches of Benue-Congo such as Delta-Cross (cf. Ikoro 1996 for Kana, Efik). Analyses from any theoretical framework are warmly welcome (CxG, cognitivism, minimalism, constraint based approaches, quantitative corpus linguistics).

  1. Which syntactic properties of SVCs can be identified which hold across all these language families (eg. unified tense, aspect, mood polarity value, reference to single event, no markers of syntactic dependency, obligatory argument sharing) ? Which properties are inclined to vary crosslinguistically?
  2. Which syntactic types of SVCs can be distinguished (take-SVCs, give-SVCs, resultative SVCs, comparative SVCs, manner SVCs)? Which syntactic diagnostics are helpful to justify this classification (eg. focus clefting, scope of negation, case of pronouns, question formation, compatible verb classes)?
  3. Can the recent findings on Kwa SVCs be extended to other languages as well? Does Shluinsky’s (2017) syntactic taxonomy of take-SVCs and give-SVCs also apply to languages outside Kwa?
  4. Are there any properties which are particular to West-African SVCs and which cannot be found in other language families such as Sino-Tibetean or Austronesian?
  5. How can SVCs be distinguished from other constructions (cf. ten generalisations by Haspelmath 2016, four parameters by Aikhenvald 2006, single event constructions Durie 1997, Bisang 2009)?

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Beermann, Dorothee and Lars Hellan (2018). “West African serial verb constructions: the case of Akan and Ga”. In: The Routledge Handbook of African Linguistics. Ed. by Augustine Agwuele and Adams Bodomo. London: Routledge.

Bisang, Walter (2009). “Serial verb constructions”. In: Language and Linguistics Compass 3.3, pp. 792–814.

Carstens, Vicky (2002). “Antisymmetry and word order in serial constructions”. In: Language 78, pp. 3–50.

Déchaine, Rose-Marie A. (1993). “Predicates across categories”. PhD thesis. Amherst: University of Massachusetts.

Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. (2002). “Areal diffusion versus genetic inheritance: An African perspective”. In: Areal diffusion and genetic inheritance. Ed. by Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and Robert Malcolm Ward Dixon. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 358–392.

Durie, Mark (1997). “Grammatical structures in verb serialization”. In: Complex predicates. Ed. by Alex Alsina, Joan Bresnan, and Peter Sells. Stanford: Center for the Study of Language and Information, pp. 289–354.

Haspelmath, Martin (2016). “The serial verb construction: Comparative concept and cross-linguistic generalizations”. In: Language and Linguistics 17.3, pp. 291–319.

Hiraiwa, Ken and Adams Bodomo (2008). “Object-sharing as symmetric sharing: predicate clefting and serial verbs in Dàgáárè”. In: Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 26, pp. 795–832.

Ikoro, Suanu M. (1996). The Kana language. Leiden: Research school CNWS.

Lord, Carol, ed. (1993). Historical change in serial verb constructions. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Ogie, Ota (2009). “Multi-verb constructions in Èdó”. PhD thesis. Trondheim: Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Putten, Saskia van (2017). “Motion in serializing languages revisited: the case of Avatime”. In: Language Typology and Universals 70.2, pp. 303–329.

Schaefer, Ronald P. and Francis O. Egbokhare (2010). “On Emai ditransitive constructions”. In: Studies in ditransitive constructions: a comparative handbook. Ed. by Andrej Malchukov, Martin Haspelmath, and Bernard Comrie. Amsterdam: Benjamins, pp. 115–144.

—––––– (2017). A grammar of Emai. Vol. 72. Mouton Grammar Library. De Gruyter Mouton.

Shluinsky (2017). “An intragenetic typology of Kwa serial verb constructions”. In: Linguistic Typology 21.2, pp. 333– 385.

Stahlke, Herbert F. W. (1970). “Serial verbs”. In: Studies in African Lingustics 1.

Ultimo aggiornamento 19/03/2022