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Swahili ditransitive constructions : A corpus study of active voice ditransitive clauses containing the verb ‘to give’

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Title: Swahili ditransitive constructions : A corpus study of active voice ditransitive clauses containing the verb ‘to give’
Author(s): Kajala, Jukka
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts
Degree program: Master's Programme in Linguistic Diversity and Digital Humanities
Specialisation: General Linguistics
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2023
According to Malchukov, Haspelmath and Comrie a ditransitive construction is a construction consisting of a ditransitive verb, an agent argument, a recipient-like argument, and a theme argument. The relations between these arguments are coded in languages by different methods, namely flagging, or noun-based marking methods; indexing, or verb-based marking methods; or the relation is determined by word order. Typologically ditransitive construction can be divided into three alignment groups, indirective, secundative or neutral. In indirective alignment the recipient argument is marked using a different marking method from theme and monotransitive patient arguments; in secundative alignment the theme argument is marked using different methods; in neutral alignment all three arguments are marked using the same method. Swahili is a prominent lingua franca spoken in Eastern Africa by approximately 100 million people belonging to the language family of Bantu languages. Swahili is an agglutinative language with rich verbal morphology. The Swahili morphosyntax is based on noun class system, in which each noun belongs to a certain noun class. Briefly, the Swahili verb cluster is constructed by adding subject and object markers, which are determined by the nouns or person affiliated with them, to the verbal root. Swahili verb cluster permits only zero or one object marker. Prior studies on Swahili object marking and ditransitive constructions reveal that the patient argument is marked using indexing. Swahili has no case marking, so no flagging methods are used. In ditransitive constructions the recipient is marked as an object marker to the verb. Because recipient and patient arguments are marked using same method, the alignment type of Swahili ditransitive clauses is secundative. In the early grammars and textbooks, the linear word order of the two overt ditransitive objects is suggested to be recipient first, theme second. Later studies suggest that the order might vary. As a part of this study, a corpus study using the Helsinki Corpus of Swahili was carried out. The findings from the corpus study confirm the later findings, the linear order of the two objects shows variation. The syntactically more heavy objects seems to prefer the position of the later object.
Keyword(s): Swahili ditransitive construction recipient theme corpus study

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