On the origins of serial verb constructions in Kalam
In Kalam, a Trans New Guinea language spoken in Papua New Guinea, there are two main types of serial verb construction (SVC), showing different degrees of morphosyntactic complexity. Compact SVCs contain from two to four verb roots that form a single, semantically and syntactically very tight-knit verb phrase. Narrative SVCs depict a sequence of events that make up a familiar episode. They contain from two to five small verb phrases, compressed into a single clause–lik e construction. The paper will discuss the functions and origins of these two constructions and reflect on the paradox that while condensing multi-clause constructions into a single clause may simplify the task of speech planning it has creates a clause type of exceptional complexity.