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Aurelia Mallya

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Home country:         Tanzania
Year of enrolment: 2014
Graduation date:    December 2016
Department:            African Languages
Supervisor:               Prof Marianna Visser

 

 

Dissertation title: Argument realization, causation and event semantics in Kiwoso

Abstract:

This study investigates the properties of change of state and change of location/position verbs in relation to argument realization, (anti-)causative alternation, and event semantics in Kiwoso. To execute this study, firstly, a representative sample of change of state and change of location/position verbs as outlined by Levin (1993) were identified with regard to their syntactic and semantic characteristics. The data were gathered through introspections, complemented by other native speakers’ acceptability judgements, and text collection. The study adopts syntactic decomposition approach as postulated by Alexiadou et al. (2006, 2015) and Alexiadou (2010). Given that an adequate explanation of the syntactic behaviour of alternation constructions in Kiwoso is contingent on aspectual verb class distinctions, Vendler's (1957) aspectual approach as developed further by Verkuyl (1972) and Smith (1997) is invoked. The two approaches are supplemented by Distributed Morphology, Minimalism, and Cartography. Research on the (anti-)causative alternation focuses on two central issues: firstly, the lexical semantic properties that determine verbal alternations, and the derivational relationship between the alternates, and secondly, the similarities between (anti-)causative, passive, and middle alternations. This study demonstrates that both externally and internally caused change of state verbs, as well as change of location/position verbs productively alternate in Kiwoso. The findings of the study establish that participation of verbs in (anti-)causative alternation is determined by the encyclopaedic lexical semantics of verb roots. The results illustrate that the causative variants of externally caused change of state verbs in Kiwoso are morphologically marked, but the anticausative alternates are unmarked.

The study demonstrates further that both causative and anticausative variants of internally caused change of state and change of location/position verbs are morphologically unmarked in Kiwoso. The study findings demonstrate that categorization of verb roots into semantic and aspectual verb classes is mainly determined by an incremental theme argument, and the grammatical aspect. In addition, the findings establish that an applicative suffix has an effect on the aspectual property of change of location/position verbs in Kiwoso. The results of the study demonstrate that realization of an external argument is determined by the lexical semantic property of verb roots. The findings establish that verbs, which denote human-oriented events, realize an agent and instrument arguments, but not causers, whereas other verbs realize agent, instrument, and causer arguments. The findings demonstrate that anticausative, passive, and middle constructions are syntactically similar in that they do not express the syntactic external (subject) argument, but they are semantically different aspects. The general findings of the study suggest that alternating verbs in Kiwoso are compositionally built in the syntax. This makes derivational approaches inadequate in accounting for the properties of these verbs. Therefore, the study adopts the family of generative syntax approaches, which adequately account for the properties of these verbs in alternation constructions. Causer arguments. The findings demonstrate that anticausative, passive, and middle constructions are syntactically similar in that they do not express the syntactic external (subject) argument, but they are semantically different aspects. The general findings of the study suggest that alternating verbs in Kiwoso are compositionally built in the syntax. This makes derivational approaches inadequate in accounting for the properties of these verbs. Therefore, the study adopts the family of generative syntax approaches, which adequately account for the properties of these verbs in alternation constructions.

Click here to download the full dissertation: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100201