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Valence-Increasing Morphology in Temne Open Access


Other title
Valence-increasing morphology
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Kanu, Sullay Mohamed
Supervisor and department
Beck, David (Department of Linguistics)
Examining committee member and department
Newman, John (Linguistics)
Rice, Sally (Linguistics)
Kabata, Kaori (Modern Languages)
Gerdts, Donna (Linguistics)
Department of Linguistics

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Abstract In this dissertation, I examine the combinatorial properties of valence-increasing suffixes (i.e., the causative and applicatives), and the semantic and syntactic effects of combining these suffixes with a verb stem in the Yoni dialect of Temne, a Southern Atlantic language of the Niger-Congo language family spoken in Sierra Leone. The data used in the analysis were drawn from direct elicitations and Temne spoken corpus representing contemporary use of the Yoni dialect. Concerning the combinatorial properties of valence-increasing suffixes, I investigate the classes of verb stems that combine with each suffix, the extent to which the suffixes can co-occur, and the relative order of the suffixes in the verb stem. I demonstrate that the combinations of valence-increasing suffixes with verb stems or with other suffixes are limited. Also, the relative order of verb suffixes is fixed and is described by morphological templates. In connection with semantics, I illustrate that the applicatives are polysemous and the meanings of each applicative are closely related. I describe these meanings in terms of a schematic network in the sense of Langacker (1987). I also describe the compositional pathway involved in the derivation of each schema of co-occurring suffixes. I demonstrate that some of the meanings of the combination of suffixes with particular verb stems are predictable, while others are unpredictable. In terms of syntax, I investigate whether any semantic role uniquely maps onto a specific grammatical relation. Also, I examine the principles that govern the mapping and realization of post-verbal arguments, and demonstrate that the order of post-verbal arguments is determined by two interacting hierarchies: the participant hierarchy and the precedence hierarchy. The participant hierarchy provides a ranked ordering of event-participants based on their semantic roles. The precedence hierarchy ranks objects expressed by object-markers over those expressed by nouns, requiring that the former precede the latter. I also identify the prominence hierarchy: 1/2 » 3animate » 3inanimate, which ranks objects according to grammatical person and animacy; semantically plausible clauses in which an object-marker lower on the prominence hierarchy would precede an object-marker higher on the hierarchy are blocked and considered ungrammatical.
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