Abstract

Most previous studies on serial verb constructions (SVC) in Austronesian languages have focused almost exclusively on two-verb constructions. In this study, we examine serial verb constructions involving three or more verbs in four Formosan languages—Kavalan, Saisiyat, Squliq Atayal, and Tsou—focusing our attention on the type of verb serialization that observes the same-subject condition. Action or motion verbs are found to be the only attested final verb in an SVC in these languages. General strategies for triple verb serialization result when any two types of the nonfinal verbs in a two-verb SVC—namely, modal, emotion, evaluative/manner, motion, or “adverbial” verbs—occur before the final action/motion constituent verb in some specific linear order, while Tsou and Kavalan recruit, in addition, one or two types of “sentential adverbial” verbs and degree or quantifier verbs in a language- specific triple verb serialization strategy. A consistent ordering pattern of the various types of verbs is found in all of the languages studied. Quadruple verb serialization, found only in Tsou and Kavalan, results when certain subtypes of “adverbial” verbs occur in combination with certain other subtypes. Our findings are also consonant with a central tenet in theories of construction grammar, that constructions in languages are not broad syntactic templates, but are typically lexically skewed schemas and formulas.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9421
Print ISSN
0029-8115
Pages
pp. 78-110
Launched on MUSE
2009-07-23
Open Access
No
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