Verb stem influence on object marking in Chiyao1

DOI: 10.2989/16073614.2020.1859942
Author(s): Julius Taji, Tanzania


This article examines the influence of verbal syntactic and semantic features on the occurrence of the object marker in Chiyao (P21), a Bantu language of Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi. The article categorises verb stems into three main groups: those that take an obligatory object marker; those that block the occurrence of the object marker; and those that neither require nor block the object marker. The analysis shows that some monotransitive verbs denoting visual and mental perception take an obligatory object marker regardless of the syntactic context or semantic features of their respective object NPs. A similar pattern is exhibited by unextended ditransitive verbs. On the other hand, verbs in the middle voice and those occurring in cognate object constructions restrict the occurrence of the object marker. Between these two extremes are the verbs that pose no restriction to object marking as they can occur with or without the object marker depending on syntactic structure, pragmatic context and object noun features. This last category constitutes the majority of the verbs and is considered unmarked. It is concluded that verbal semantic and syntactic features are important aspects to consider in any account of the conditions for object marking in Chiyao.

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