SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Verb meaning and valency-changing morphology: Insights from Bantu

Kyle Jerro (Essex)

Date: 5 June 2018Time: 3:30 PM

Finishes: 5 June 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B111

Type of Event: Seminar


In this talk I discuss the role of verb in meaning in determining the realization of valency-changing morphology, with a particular focus on the contribution of applicative morphology. The classic description of applicatives is that they increase the argument structure of the verb by adding a new object slot and assigning one of a limited set of thematic roles to that argument. Recent work has shown that the picture of applicatives is more heterogenous that originally thought; in particular, applicatives in some cases may not increase the valence at all, and further, verb meaning is crucial in determining what the realization of an applicativization will be. I pursue various case studies of this interaction of verb and applicative mostly from the Bantu language Kinyarwanda (Bantu JD61; Rwanda), and I argue that applicativization marks a paradigmatic output condition on applied variants of verbs and requires that this variant has a stricter set of lexical entailments associated with an internal argument than the non-applied variant. 

About the speaker

Kyle Jerro is a lecturer in the Department of Language and Linguistics at the University of Essex. They hold a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. Broadly speaking, their research interests include formal semantics, syntax, and interface between these two domains. In particular, their focus is on the question of possible verb meanings and how the meaning of a verb derives argument realization, including the nature of valency-changing morphology. Kyle addresses these issues in their research on Bantu languages spoken in Eastern Africa, having conducted data collection on three Bantu languages: Kinyarwanda (Rwanda), Lubukusu (Kenya), and Chichewa (Malawi). Other topics of interest are agreement, the semantics of aspect, grammatical complexity, lexical semantic typology, and motion predicates.