Abstract

Nama, a Papuan language spoken in southern New Guinea, indexes the person and number of the A argument of a transitive verb with a suffix, and the P argument with a prefix. For a large subset of transitive verbs, valency can be reduced to one argument by one of two strategies. In the first, an intransitive form of the verb stem is used and the remaining S argument is indexed like an A argument of a transitive verb. In the second strategy, the transitive verb stem is used and the S argument is indexed like a P argument. Thus, Nama appears to be a language with split intransitivity. After presenting some background information on Nama, this article describes these two strategies and their functions in detail. In comparison with other languages, the first strategy itself is not uncommon in detransitivizing languages, but the scope of its grammatical functions appears to be typologically unusual. The second strategy, however, is more unusual, but also more restrictive in function. The article concludes by discussing whether the use of a derived verb stem with an intransitive marker can, in fact, be considered as a valency reduction strategy.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9421
Print ISSN
0029-8115
Pages
pp. 123-142
Launched on MUSE
2017-06-12
Open Access
No
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