Auxiliary vs INFL in Bantu. The syntactic and phonological complexity of Ndebele verbs
Asia Pietraszko
January 2017

A distinctive property of Bantu verbs is the division into two domains: a cluster of inflectional prefixes (INFL) and a lexical verb stem. This claim has been supported by a range of multidomain effects which single out INFL as an independent constituent. Such effects led to the hypothesis that INFL in Bantu is of the same category as auxiliary verbs found in auxiliary–participle constructions. This paper investigates syntactic, morphological and phonological complexity effects in Northern Ndebele verbs and concludes that INFL in this language cannot be treated as a type of auxiliary. This conclusion is reached through a detailed comparison of INFL and verbal auxiliaries, revealing striking asymmetries, syntactic and phonological, between the two. The autonomy of INFL is argued to be a reflex of how verbal morphology is organized into complex heads in Bantu languages. In particular, the boundary between INFL and V-stem is modeled as a boundary between complex syntactic heads, and is not indicative of compound-tense syntax.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003294
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: to appear in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory
keywords: compound tenses, auxiliaries, syntax, morphology, phonology, ndebele, bantu
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