The grammaticalisation of verb-auxiliary order in East African Bantu
From information structure to tense-aspect
Bantu languages employ a combination of simple and compound verb forms to encode tense-aspect-mood distinctions. Compound constructions typically involve an auxiliary form followed by an inflected main verb. However, the six East African Bantu languages under examination in this paper exhibit a word order in which the auxiliary appears after the verb. This order is typologically unusual for languages with SVO word order and comparatively unusual in the context of the Bantu languages. This paper presents a synchronic description of this word order and develops an account of its possible origins. It is proposed that the verb-auxiliary order originated from a verb-fronting construction which was used historically to convey predication focus. The account further corroborates the claim that the progressive aspect is an inherently focal category in Bantu and, from a wider perspective, shows the interplay between the encoding of information structure and tense-aspect information.
Keywords: Bantu, grammaticalisation, word order, language contact, information structure
Published online: 23 January 2020
Abels, Klaus & Peter Muriungi
Aunio, Lotta, Holly Robinson, Tim Roth, Oliver Stegen & John B. Walker
Bennett, Patrick R.
Bostoen, Koen & Gilles-Maurice de Schryver[ p. 795 ]
Bouka, L. Y.
Bybee, Joan, Revere Perkins & William Pagliuca
Van Coetsem, Frans
Dom, Sebastian & Koen Bostoen
Elderkin, Edward D.
[ p. 796 ]
Gibson, Hannah & Lutz Marten
Greenberg, Joseph H.
2016 The fronted-infinitive in few. Paper presented at 6th International Bantu conference, Helsinki University. 20–23rd June 2016.
Harris, Alice & Lyle Campbell
Hartmann, Katharina & Tonjes Veenstra
Heine, Bernd & Tania Kuteva
Hopper, Paul J.
Kießling, Roland, Maarten Mous & Derek Nurse
de Kind, Jasper, Sebastian Dom, Gilles-Maurice de Schryver & Koen Bostoen[ p. 797 ]
Maho, Jouni Filip
Forthcoming. Bantu and Bantoid. In Rainer Vossen ed. Handbook of African Linguistics Oxford Oxford University Press
Marten, Lutz, Peter Edelesten, Rozenn Guérois & Hannah Gibson
2013 Gĩkũyũ. Unpublished ms. Paper presented to the Predicate-centered focus types: B7 project meeting, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Nov. 19, 2013.
2016 Verb doubling vs. the conjoint/disjoint alternation. Paper presented at 6th International Bantu conference, Helsinki University 20–23rd June 2016.
Ndumbu, J. M. G. & W. H. Whiteley
Nurse, Derek & Gérard Philippson[ p. 798 ]
Philippson, Gérard and Derek Nurse
2014 The Case of Ngoreme: Distinguishing contact from inheritance in Mara Bantu. Paper presented at Language Contact: State of the Art, Helsinki, Finland.
Thomason, Sarah G. & Terrence Kaufmann
Walker, John B.
Westphal, Ernst O. J.
Wright, Richard, Ian Maddieson, Peter Ladefoged & Bonny Sands[ p. 799 ]