Active, Passive and Neuter-Passive verb constructions in Oshindonga: Argument alternation and event structure properties

Shiwanda, Simon (2018-03)


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study examines the argument alternations and event structure properties of active, passive and neuter-passive of various verb classes in Oshindonga and also to develop a more formal syntactic and semantics approach which is equally relevant in differentiating the passive from the neuter-passive. This study take into account the traditional aspectual semantic classification postulate in Vendler (1957) further developed in (Smith, 1997). These aspectual approaches are invoked for the reason that the two alternants in the neuter-passive and passive alternation in Oshindonga are associated with aspectual verb class differences. The syntactic decomposition approach is employed in order to provide a principled account for the phenomena in which arguments in passive and middles are assumed to be derived from the common detransitivisation base. The middle and passive variants are supposed not to represent each other in a deriviational relationship. This approach, however, assumes that the event structure of word meanings is constructed from two major elements; the eventive predicates indicating causation (CAUSE), action (ACT) and change of state (BECOME) and the other element is indicating idiosyncratic aspects (Beaver, 2012:332). The data contained in this study includes sentences constructed using various verb classes as proposed by Levin (1993), viz. verbs of change, verbs of communication, verbs of existence, experiencer verbs, verbs of contact, motion verbs, verbs of creation and weather verbs (cf. Du Plessis 1998). The findings of the study reveals that two types of alternations are identified in Oshindonga. These alternations are decided by the verb roots, and not by thier semantic classes. The first alternates comprise of the subject argument that appears with subject NPs. The second alternates, the subject argument NPs are not morphlogically marked, thus they appears with null subject. The findings of the present study demonstrate that in Oshindonga a single verb displays distinct aspectual behavior when used in passive and neuter-passive alternations, regardless of their common properties in terms of argument realization and alternations. The findings of the study further revealed that the classification of verbs roots in Oshindonga is semantic since different verbs classes are distinguished by the different properties of the events in their denotations. In addition, other sentence elements such as; tense aspects and predicate modifications play an important role in deciding the aspectual classes of the verb. However, this study has established that although some non-alternate verbs in Oshindonga such as pya, do not alternate, others such as pepa have satisfied the diagnostic test.

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