Journal of West African Languages

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The semantic properties of separation verbs in Gurenε The semantic properties of separation verbs in Gurenε

The paper discusses the semantic properties of separation verbs in Gurenε. The language uses a rich set of verbs to describe different kinds of separation events with fine-grained semantics. The separation verbs are classified into CUT and BREAK (C&B events henceforth), and opening or detachment verbs. The C&B verbs describe the severance or the destruction of an object while the opening or detachment verbs describe the separation of a distinguishable part of an object from another. In this paper, I discuss in detail the semantics of the separation verbs in Gurenε to show that verb meaning in the language is highly specific and precise. The paper further explores the syntax of the verbs in light of the Guerssel et al. (1985) causative-inchoative hypothesis in their study of separation verbs in four languages (Berber, English, Hocak & Warlpiri) that BREAK verbs but not CUT verbs participate in causative-inchoative alternation. The Gurenɛ data show that CUT verbs as well as both BREAK and opening verbs do participate in the causative-inchoative alternation. The discussion is pursued from a descriptive and typological perspective. The data is largely based on elicitations with six native-speaker consultants using the C&B video stimuli designed by Bohnnemeyer et al. (2001) and Majid et al. (2007).


Volume Number 46.1
Topic #1 Semantics
Topic #2 Verbs
Author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Language English
Language Family Gur
Subject Language Gurene

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