Assamese verb serialization in functional, areal-typological and diachronic perspective

Post, Mark (2004) Assamese verb serialization in functional, areal-typological and diachronic perspective. In: Proceedings of the 30th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society (30) pp. 377-390. From: The 30th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society, 13-16 Februrary 2004, Berkeley, CA, USA.

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[Extract] In Southeast Asian and West African linguistics, clauses containing multiple chained verbs are typically referred to as "serial verb constructions." In the South Asian linguistic tradition, the closest analogue to the serial verb construction is often labeled a "compound" or "explicator compound" verb (Brown 1997; Burton-Page 1957; Hacker 1961; Hook 1974; Kachru and Pandharipande 1980; Nespital 1989), to some a subtype of "converb" construction or "conjunctive participial" (Bisang 1995 and references therein). Qualified use of the term "serialization" has occasionally been introduced (Kachru 1979; Kachru 1993; Pandharipande 1993; Steever 1989). However, a detailed comparative study of multi-verb constructions in e.g. South and Southeast Asian languages remains to be conducted.2

While our data at present remain insufficient to conduct this larger study, I argue in this paper that verb chains in at least Assamese are in fact direct analogues to the serial verb constructions of West Africa and Southeast Asia. Structurally, their surface syntax is comparable in the crucial respects, and they exhibit analogous properties with respect to argument structure, scope of tense-aspect marking and polarity. More tellingly, however, they share a precisely analogous diachronic origin and functional motivation for their development, as well as serve as a primary channel for the recruitment of new grammatical morphemes. Although in terms of frequency distribution, as well as sheer number of functions handled, verb-serialization appears far deeper in more prototypical verb-serializing languages such as Lahu or Akan, these differences should probably be understood in terms of typological constraints on their development rather than as differences of kind per se.

The paper has the following structure: section (2) briefly discusses some typological features of Assamese with reference to contact in the Northeast Indian linguistic area. Sections (3) and (4) review the synchronic and diachronic characteristics respectively of serial verb constructions in languages commonly identified as having them. Section (5) then reviews the major structural and semantic features of the Assamese serial verb construction. Section (6) concludes the presentation.

Item ID: 17857
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISSN: 2377-1666
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2017 04:00
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 100%
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