Valency and expectation in Bantu applicatives

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Valency and expectation in Bantu applicatives

Type: Article / Letter to editor
Title: Valency and expectation in Bantu applicatives
Author: Marten, L.Mous, M.P.G.M.
Journal Title: Linguistics Vanguard
Issue: 1
Volume: 3
Issue Date: 2017
Keywords: applicative constructions
syntax-pragmatics interface
Abstract: Bantu applicatives are standardly analysed syntactically, as encoding a change in valency. However, in many cases applicatives do not change valency, but are rather related to a change in interpretation. In particular pragmatic functions of applicatives related to focus and emphasis are often noted in the description of individual languages, but are very rarely reflected in typological or theoretical work. To address this problem, this paper develops a pragmatic analysis of applicatives, in which applicatives signal that the action denoted by the base verb is being carried out in some way remarkably, and so differently from normal expectations about the action. Pragmatic effects are found with all uses of applicatives, and may lead to a change in valency, or not. Absence of a change in valency is found in particular with locative and instrument applicatives, while benefactive applicatives almost always entail a change in valency. This is related to the thematic hierarchy: Beneficiaries occupy a high position in the thematic hierarchy and have a strong effect on the expectedness of the action expressed. The advantage of our analysis is that it addresses both interpretational and structural aspects of applicative constructions and provides a unified explanation for them.

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