On Nominalizing the Serial Verb in Mabia Languages
Verb serialization and nominalization are two prominent phenomena in descriptive and theoretical syntax. This paper raises a number of issues that result from the interaction between these two widely attested phenomena in the literature: nominalization (e.g. Chomsky 1970, Roeper 1993, Alexiadou 2011, Lieber 2016) and verb serialization (e.g. Foley and Olson 1985, Baker 1989, Bodomo 1993, Lord 1993, Collins 1997, Stewart 2001, Foley 2010, Haspelmath 2016). Based on data from Dagaare and Kusaal, two Mabia languages of West Africa, this paper analyses a serial verb construction which is a type of complex predicate construction in which all the verbs in a series are nominalized, with only one of the verbs carrying the nominalization affix (Bodomo and Oostendorp 1993, Bodomo 2004, Hiraiwa, Bodomo 2008, and Abubakari 2011). Such a rare complex predicate construction is then the basis for renewed questions about the nature of complex predicatehood, diathetic syntactic alternations, and lexical categorial differences involving nouns and verbs across languages. The paper proposes a syntactic representation of these nominalized serial verbal predicates in which the verbal predicates are basically interpreted as VPs headed by a nomP functional projection. Semantically, we propose that nominalized serial verbs, like their purely verbal counterparts, express a complex event. It is thus concluded that while verbal and nominal predicates obtain from the same minimal constructs, the difference between pure serial verbs and nominalized serial verbs is due to the fact that a semantic feature, [+nom], parallel to the syntactic functional projection, nomP, imposes nominal features on the whole complex. This analysis is extended to complex verbal constructions in English.
Abney, S. 1987. The English noun phrase in its nominal aspect. Doctoral dissertation, MIT.
Abubakari, H. 2018. Aspects of Kusaal Grammar: The Syntax-Information
Structure Interface. PhD Disseration. African Studies Department: University
Abubakar, H. 2015. “Predicate cleft constructions in Kusaal”. Paper presented at the International Workshop in Honor of Lars Hellan. African Studies Department, University of Vienna.
Abubakar, H. 2011. Object-Sharing as Symmetric Sharing: Predicate Clefting and
Serial Verb Constructions in Kusaal. (M.Phil. Thesis, University of Tromsø,
Alexiadou, A. 2011. Statives and nominalization. Recherches Linguistiques de
Vincennes 40, 25–52.
Angkaaraba, J. 1980. The nominal phrase in Dagaari. Long Essay, Department of Linguistics, University of Ghana, Accra.
Baker, M. 1989. “Object sharing and projection in serial verb constructions”. Linguistic Inquiry 20, 513—553.
Bendor-Samuel, J. T. 1971. “Niger-Congo, Gur”. In Current trends in Linguistics, edited by T. Sebeok. The Hague: Mouton.
Bodomo, A. 2004. “The syntax of Nominalized complex verbal predicates in Dagaare”. Studia Linquistica, 58 (1): 1-22.
Bodomo, A. B. 1993. “Complex predicates and event structure: an integrated analysis of serial verb constructions in the Mabia languages of West Africa”. Working Papers in Linguistics 20. Department of Linguistics, University of Trondheim, Norway.
Bodomo, A. B. 1997. Paths and pathfinders: exploring the syntax and semantics of
complex verbal predicates in Dagaare and other languages, Doctoral dissertation,
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Trondheim, Norway.
Bodomo, A. B. and M. Van Oostendorp. 1993. “Serial verb nominalisation in Dagaare”. Paper read at the 24th Annual Conference on African Linguistics, Columbus, Ohio, USA.
Bresnan, J. (ed.). 1982. The Mental Representation of Grammatical Relations. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Bresnan, J., A. Asudeh, I. Toivonen and S. Wechsler. 2015. Lexical Functional Syntax. 2nd edition. Wiley Blackwell.
Bresnan, J. 2001. Lexical-Functional Syntax. Oxford: Blackwell.
Chomsky, N. 1970. “Remarks on nominalization”. In English transformational grammar, edited by Jacobs and Rosenbaum, 184 - 221.
Cinque, G. 2005. “Deriving Greenberg’s Universal 20 and Its Exceptions”. In
Linguistic Inquiry, 36 (3). Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
Dakubu, M. E. K. 1996. A Grammar of Gurenε. Corrected Trial Edition. Language Centre, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra.
Dalrymple, M. 2001. Lexical Functional Grammar. Syntax and Semantics, vol. 23. New York: Academic Press.
Falk, Y. N. 2001. Lexical-Functional Grammar: an introduction to parallel constraint-based syntax. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.
Foley, W. A. 2010. “Events and serial verb constructions”. In Complex Predicates: Cross-linguistic Perspectives on Event Structure, edited by Mengistu Amberber, Brett J. Baker and Mark Harvey, 79–109. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press.
Foley, W.A. And M. Olson. 1985. “Clausehood and verb serialization”. In Grammar
Inside and Outside the Clause: Some Approaches to Theory from the Field,
Edited by Johanna Nichols and Anthony C. Woodbury. Cambridge & New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Greenberg, J. 1963. “Some universals of grammar with particular reference to the
order of meaningful elements”. In Universals of language, edited by Micheal Kefer and Johan van der Auwera, 105-118. (Belgian Journal of Linguistics 4.) Brussels: Edition de l’Université de Bruxelles.
Hellan, L. 1986. “The headedness of the NP in Norwegian”. In Features and projections, edited by P. Muysken and Henk van Riemsdijk. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.
Hoekstra, T. 1986. “Deverbalization and inheritance”. Linguistics 24, 549 - 584.
Jackendoff, R. 1997. The architecture of the language faculty. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Kroeger, P. R. 2004. Analyzing Syntax: A Lexical-Functional Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lieber, R. 2016. English nouns: The ecology of nominalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
Lord, C. 1993. Historical Change in Serial Verb Constructions. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Haspelmath, M. 2016. “The serial verb construction: comparative concept and cross-linguistic generalizations”. Language and Linguistics 17(3), 291–319.
Roeper, T. 1993. “Explicit syntax in the lexicon: The representation of nominalizations”. In Semantics and the Lexicon, edited by James Pustejovsky, 185–220. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Sadock, J. 1991. Autolexical syntax. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Stewart, O. T. 2001. The Serial Verb Construction Parameter. New York: Garland.
The Ghana Journal of Linguistics is published by the Linguistics Association of Ghana, P. O. Box LG61, Legon, Accra, Ghana.
© Linguistics Association of Ghana and individual authors, 2016.